Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki has reacted to an order by the Federal High Court in Lagos for the forfeiture of two of his houses in Ilorin, Kwara State.
The EFCC told the court it uncovered monumental fraud perpetrated in the treasury of the Kwara State Government between 2003 and 2011, when Saraki was the governor of the state.
Based on an ex parte application filed by the EFCC pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act No. 14, 2006, Justice Rilwan Aikawa ordered the temporary forfeiture of Saraki’s two properties designated as Plots No. 10 and No. 11 Abdulkadir Road, GRA, Ilorin, Kwara State.
A statement issued by Saraki’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, reads in part:
“Restraining the respondents (Commission) by themselves, their subordinates, agents, servants, or privies howsoever, from seizing, impounding, taking over, confiscating or otherwise forfeiting the Applicant’s (Saraki) right to own and peacefully enjoy any of his assets and properties”.
“The EFCC’s claim that the Ilorin property was built by any proceed of fraud is outrightly false. The fact is that the Ilorin property was built partly by the Kwara State Government pursuant to the Third Schedule of the Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law 2010 while Dr. Saraki personally funded the remaining cost of the building.
“There are existing letters from the Office of the Head of Service of Kwara State notifying the former Governor (Saraki) of the State Government’s compliance with the State Pension for Governor’s law and the one indicating his intention to bear the cost of the additional expenditure that will arise from building the property to his desired taste dated 25th January 2012 and 8th February 2012 respectively.
“The construction of the building did not commence until the last few weeks of Dr. Saraki’s tenure as Governor and the bulk of his contribution to the funding were made with cheques. Where cash was involved, this was mainly in 2012 and 2013, more than a year after he had left office as Governor.
“It should also be noted that the land on which the house is built is not a government allocated land.
“One can only see that EFCC is playing politics and spreading falsehood in its cheap attempt to witch-hunt and intimidate a perceived enemy.”
He expressed surprise that the EFCC “could not even hide its penchant for abusing the nation’s judicial institution as it engaged in forum shopping when it filed a suit in Lagos on a property situated in Ilorin.
“We will like to restate our earlier position that Dr. Saraki will contest this matter in court at least to further attest to his belief in the rule of law, the sanctity of the courts and their enduring readiness to do justice in all matters and to all persons.
“Let it be known that the usual claim by the EFCC that its actions were directed against corrupt elements does not apply to Dr. Saraki because he is a man who at every point in his public service has sought to institute transparency and accountability in governance.”