The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, has rejected a move seeking the final forfeiture of two properties belonging to Bukola Saraki, former senate president.
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Justice Mohammed Liman turned down the move in a ruling on Monday, over insufficient and conflicting affidavit evidence filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Liman held that the documents put before the court by the EFCC in support of the final forfeiture order were insufficient.
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The judge also held that the anti-graft agency’s documents did not establish any link showing that funds belonging to Kwara State were used to repay Saraki’s loan.
He concluded by asking the EFCC to call its witnesses at the next adjourned date, to give oral evidence to resolve the inconsistencies and contradictions in its documents.
Lawyers to Saraki will also get an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses.
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The judge, who dismissed a preliminary objection filed by the former senate president, assumed jurisdiction to hear the suit and subsequently fixed September 29, 2020, for the next hearing.
In the suit, the EFCC had asked the court to order the final forfeiture to the federal government of Nigeria Saraki’s properties situated at 17 & 17A, McDonald Road, in the Ikoyi area of Lagos State.
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At the last sitting of the court over the matter on March 5, counsel to the EFCC, Nnaemeka Omewa, who moved the application for the final forfeiture, told the judge that the properties were acquired with a loan obtained from Guaranty Trust Bank, and paid back with money suspected to have been diverted from the coffers of the Kwara State government.
The counsel said, “There are written statements from some officials of the Kwara State government on how the money was taken from the coffers of the state government and used to pay back the loan.”
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The EFCC, therefore, asked the court to look at the merit of its case, all the exhibits attached, and make an order permanently forfeiting the properties to the federal government.
However, counsel to Saraki, Kehinde Ogunwumiju,had asked the court to reject the application by the EFCC.
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He argued that the anti-graft agency was unable to prove that the money used to pay back the loan was acquired by any illegal activity.
Ogunwumiju further told the court that the EFCC had written litigations on the same properties before the Code of Conduct Tribunal and the Supreme Court, and lost.
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He then asked the court to dismiss the EFFC’s suit seeking the final forfeiture of the properties, and rule in favour of the former Kwara governor.