Lukman Olabiyi 

Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, yesterday told the Federal High Court, Lagos, that the suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking permanent forfeiture of his houses in Ilorin, Kwara State, was an abuse of court process.

He claimed that the EFCC’s suit was filed to scandalise him, and urged the court to dismiss it and vacate the temporary forfeiture order placed on the properties.

He also insisted that the suit was a ploy by the anti-graft agency to review the July 6, 2018, judgment of the Supreme Court. He argued that the apex court’s decision had discharged him from culpability arising from the same money and houses that were the subject matter of the suit before the Lagos court.

The commission had told Justice Rilwan Aikawa that the houses, Plots 10 and 11, Abdulkadir Road, GRA, Ilorin, were acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities allegedly perpetrated by Saraki between 2003 and 2011.
After listening to the ex parte  application filed by the EFCC, Aikawa had, on December 2, 2019, ordered the temporary forfeiture of the houses to the Federal Government.
Aikawa then adjourned the matter for Saraki to appear before him to give reasons why the houses should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

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At the resumed hearing yesterday, Saraki, through his counsel, Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN, filed a preliminary objection, challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit. Ogunwumiju submitted that the new suit by the EFCC was an abuse of court processes because it was filed at a time when a suit on the same subject matter was still pending before the Federal High Court, Abuja.

He maintained that, in the Abuja suit, Justice Taiwo Taiwo had on May 14, 2019, made an order for parties to stay action on the subject matter pending the determination of an originating motion on notice.
He said: “Despite the pendency of the above captioned suit, service of the originating processes and the subsistence of the aforesaid order of this court, the respondent surreptitiously commenced Suit No.
FHC/L/CS/1867/2019 between the EFCC v Dr. Bukola Saraki on October 14, 2019, in this court where it seeks orders aimed at neutralising the order of the Abuja division of this court.”

He also claimed that the new suit was meant to “irritate, annoy and scandalise” his client and, therefore, urged Aikawa to dismiss it.

The judge adjourned till February 5 to take arguments on Saraki’s objection.