5th March, 2021
Justice Mohammed Liman of The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has dismissed an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission seeking final forfeiture of Bukola Saraki’s houses to the Federal Government.
The judge also quashed its order of interim forfeiture made against two properties of the former Senate President.
The properties are located at 17 and 17A MacDonald Road, Ikoyi, Lagos State.
The EFCC had sought the final forfeiture with the claim that the properties were purchased from a proceed of unlawful activity.
However, Justice Liman, in his judgment, held that the essence of an interim order of forfeiture is to preserve the property from being dissipated by the suspect and the burden is on the EFCC, to satisfy the Court that the property is a proceed of unlawful or illegal activity under the corruption laws.
The Court however found that the EFCC had in its affidavit in support of its application for final forfeiture stated that the properties sought to be forfeited were purchased with a personal loan Senator Saraki obtained from Guaranty Trust Bank.
The Court agreed with the counsel to the former senate president, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN) that the burden of proof for final forfeiture is on the preponderance of evidence and that the EFCC had failed to show that the monies used to purchase the property were from the Kwara State government house account.
The court was also not satisfied that Senator Saraki had paid off the loan used to purchase the property.
“The evidence of the transactions presented by the Applicant was in respect of transactions made after he had purchased the property and the proceeds used for the purchase were legal, that is loans”.
In the final analysis, the Court held that the EFCC failed to prove that it was entitled to the relief of final forfeiture of the properties.
Justice Liman accordingly dismissed the application and vacated the interim forfeiture order it made on 21st October 2019.