Justice Muhammed Liman of the Federal High Court Lagos has fixed February 19, 2021, for judgment in a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the total and final forfeiture of two properties belonging to the former Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
Justice Liman fixed the date on Tuesday after all parties adopted and argued their final written addresses.
Saraki, a two-term governor of Kwara, is being investigated by the anti-graft agency, which alleged that while serving as governor between 2003 and 2011, he withdrew over N12 billion cash from the account of the Kwara government and paid same into his accounts domiciled in Access and Zenith Banks through one of his assistants, Abdul Adama.
The court had on October 21, 2019, while granting an exparte application brought before it by the EFCC and argued by its counsel, Nnemeka Omewa, ordered the interim forfeiture of the two properties located on 17 and 17b, McDonald Road, Ikoyi, Eti-Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State, which were said to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activity.
Upon being served with the interim forfeiture order, the former senate president, through his counsel, Kehinde Ogunwunmiju (SAN), approached the court to discharge the temporary order.
The judge, however, declined to discharge the interim order. Instead, he ordered the parties to show cause why the two properties should be forfeited to the Nigerian government.
The court commenced hearing on the motion for final forfeiture of the said properties on February 6, 2020.
During the final forfeiture application hearing, the EFCC called three witnesses and tendered several documentary evidence, which the court admitted.
The anti-graft agency claimed the properties were obtained with loans from GTBank and repaid with Kwara State funds.
But Saraki told them that he was already a successful businessman before he came into politics. He told the court that EFCC must prove that the properties were proceed of an unlawful act.
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Tuesday, the EFCC’s counsel, Omewa, while citing a plethora of authority, said the agency had successfully established that the money used by the former senate president in acquiring the two properties sought to be forfeited was bought through illicit funds.
However, Saraki’s counsel, Ogunwunmiju, urged the court to dismiss the EFCC’s motion on the ground that the agency had failed woefully to prove its case against his client.
Ogunwunmiju also asked the court to discharge earlier interim forfeiture placed on the two properties.
The EFCC, in an affidavit attached with the motion for final forfeiture of the said properties, deposed to by one of its investigators, Olamide Sadiq, alleged that the former senate president acquired the two properties with proceeds of unlawful activity.