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Court orders temporary forfeiture of houses belonging to Saraki over fraud allegation

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ON Monday the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, obtained an order from the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos for the forfeiture of two houses in Ilorin, Kwara State belonging to a former Senate President, Bukola Saraki according to a report.

The EFCC said its investigations revealed that fraud was perpetrated in the treasury of the Kwara State Government between 2003 and 2011 when Saraki was the governor of the state.

In October, the embattled erstwhile senate president had some of his landed properties in Lagos state confiscated by the Federal Government over unlawful acquisition using proceeds from the state treasury.

In an ex parte application filed by the anti-graft agency pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act No. 14, 2006 the presiding judge, 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.

In an affidavit filed to provide backup for the ex parte application to move for the forfeiture of the houses after the findings made by the EFCC alleged that “the report of a committee set up to review sales of Kwara State Government during the reign of the Governor of Kwara State in the year 2003 and 2011.”

Olamide Sadiq, an operative of the EFCC stated in the application that the intelligence report gathered by the commission alongside hard evidence showed that proceeds from the treasury were used in the purchase of the houses.

“Whilst the investigation was ongoing several fraudulent transactions were discovered. I know for a fact and verily believe that our investigation has revealed the following mind-boggling findings, among others.

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“That between 2003 and 2011, Dr Olubukola Abubakar Saraki was the Executive Governor of Kwara State.

“That whilst he held the aforementioned position, the common pattern was that after payment of monthly allocation by the Federal Government to the Kwara State Government, a cumulative sum of not less than N100m will be deposited into the Kwara Government House account.

“That upon the payment of the said N100m, same will, in turn, be withdrawn in cash by one Mr Afeez Yusuf from the Kwara State Government House, Ilorin’s account in bits and brought to the Government House,” he said.

The EFCC said it believed that Saraki developed the two properties with proceeds of unlawful activities.

Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged Justice Aikawa to order their temporary forfeiture to the Federal Government.

After granting the order as prayed, Justice Aikawa directed the EFCC to publish the temporary forfeiture order in a national newspaper and adjourned till December 17 for anyone interested in the properties to appear before him to show cause why the properties should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

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Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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