A federal high court in Lagos has refused an application by the federal government for the final forfeiture of two properties belonging to Bukola Saraki, the immediate past senate president.
The court had in October 2019, ordered the temporary forfeiture of the two properties located at 17A, McDonald Road, Ikoyi, Eti Osa local government area of Lagos state.
In the suit, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) asked the court to order the final forfeiture of the properties to the federal government.
The commission alleged that while serving as governor of Kwara state, Saraki withdrew over N12 billion cash from the account of the government and paid same into his accounts domiciled in Access and Zenith Banks through one of his personal assistants, Abdul Adama.
He reportedly purchased the houses with the money.
While delivering ruling on Monday, Mohammed Liman, the judge, held that the EFCC has failed to prove that the properties were acquired with proceeds of stolen funds.
Liman held that the documentary evidence put before the court by the EFCC in support of the final forfeiture order was conflicting and insufficient.
He said no link was established showing that Kwara state government funds were used to repay Saraki’s loan.
Rather, the judge concluded that the houses were purchased with a credit facility granted to the former senate president by the Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB).
The judge asked the EFCC to call its witnesses at the next adjourned date, to give oral evidence to resolve the inconsistencies and contradictions in its documents.
Saraki’s legal counsel would also get the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses.
Meanwhile, the judge also dismissed a preliminary objection filed by Saraki seeking that the case be quashed for constituting an abuse of court processes.
He submitted that the suit contained the same facts on which he was prosecuted before the code of conduct tribunal and was discharged and acquitted up to the supreme court.
The case has been adjourned to September 29 for continuation.
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