Former Senate President and two-term Kwara State Governor, Dr Bukola Saraki, has urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to dismiss a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) praying for the permanent forfeiture of his Ilorin houses.
Saraki described the suit as an abuse of court processes and a move to scandalise him.
He argued that it was a ploy by the EFCC to review the July 6, 2018 decision of the Supreme Court “discharging the applicant from culpability arising from the same money and houses which are the subject matter of this action.”
The EFCC had, in the suit filed before Justice Rilwan Aikawa, claimed that the houses – Plots No. 10 and No. 11 Abdulkadir Road, GRA, Ilorin, Kwara State – were acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities allegedly perpetrated by Saraki, while he was Kwara State Governor between 2003 and 2011.
Justice Aikawa had on December 2, 2019 ordered the temporary forfeiture of the houses to the Federal Government.
The judge adjourned for Saraki to appear before him to give reasons the houses should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
In response, Saraki, through his lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), filed a preliminary objection, challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.
Ogunwumiju said 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 at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
According to him, 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.
“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 14th October 2019 in this court where it seeks orders aimed at neutralising the order of the Abuja Division of this court,” he said.
The ex-Kwara governor said that the new EFCC’s suit was meant to “irritate, annoy and scandalise” him and urged Justice Aikawa to dismiss it.
The judge, on Tuesday, adjourned the matter till February 5 to take arguments on Saraki’s objection.
The EFCC, in the suit, told the court that it received “a damning intelligence report, showing monumental fraud perpetrated in the treasury of the Kwara State Government between 2003 and 2011,” when Saraki was the governor of the state.
An operative of the EFCC, Olamide Sadiq said, “Whilst 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:
“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.”
AbdulRazaq a breath of fresh air — Kwara PDP leaders
Top leaders of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State on Tuesday pledged their loyalty to Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq whose leadership style, humility and attachment to the poor they described as a breath of fresh air.
The PDP leaders, who also comprised at least six suspended council chairmen, women and several youth leaders, spoke late Tuesday when they visited AbdulRazaq in Government House in Ilorin, the state capital.
“We can see a difference and people can feel that they have a government. The situation has changed in the area of road construction, water, health. You have also brought unmatched humility to governance,” Obalola Suleiman, a top PDP chieftain from Ifelodun local government area, said at the meeting.
“You have started very well and our people are happy. We urge you to continue along that path. We are willing to work with you for the overall interest of our state.”
Ben Duntoye, a former commissioner and PDP chieftain from Irepodun local government area of the state, aligned with Obalola.
“You are a silent achiever. We can see things for ourselves and we want to be a part of this success story. We can see that you are doing more work than talk. This is evident in our various communities,” Duntoye said.
Yahya Yinusa, a prominent PDP chieftain from Kwara North popularly called ‘Bulldozer’, also commended AbdulRazaq’s leadership and said the next few months would record influx of thousands of opposition figures into the ruling APC on account of the Governor’s sterling effort to reposition Kwara.
“I am not surprised at the positive turn of things in Kwara. We were in CPC together and I can tell the great roles you played in assisting many of us who were contesting at the time. Your work is really speaking for you,” Yinusa said.
Garba Labaka, suspended chairman of Ifelodun local government area, commended the Governor for his “unrivalled tolerance and political maturity”, saying the Governor has neither stopped their salary nor subjected them to harassment as was the case in some other states.
“This clearly sets you apart as a great leader. We are very grateful to you for your tolerance and large-heartedness,” he said, adding that he has the mandate of all his colleagues to thank the Governor as well as appeal to him to return them to office.
Bilikisu Sanni, a retired permanent secretary and PDP chieftain, said the Governor has made history as the most gender friendly leader in the history of the state.
“We will continue to be grateful to you for this singular honour you’ve done to us as women. You have also changed the face of governance. It’s an entirely new pleasant experience for the people of Kwara a State,” she said.
AbdulRazaq, for his part, commended the opposition leaders for the visit and said he sees everyone as critical stakeholders for a greater Kwara.
“The situation we have found ourselves in Kwara is such that all hands must be on deck to move the state forward. We need everybody on board in this task. That is why I treat everyone as fellow Kwaran. From the civil service to other sectors, my concern has been how to stabilise our state for posterity,” he said.
AbdulRazaq explained his various interventions in the health and education sectors, water, road, as well as his upcoming efforts to tackle poverty and grow the economy through social investment programmes and health insurance scheme, drawing applause from members of the opposition.
The meeting was attended by top government officials and politicians including Senior Adviser and Counsellor Kale Belgore; Special Adviser (Political) Saadu Salau; Special Adviser (Special Duties) Yinka Aluko; and Senator Suleiman Ajadi.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor
12 February, 2020.
Ex-Kwara Executive Director Forfeits Mansion To Govt
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ilorin Zonal Office has secured the final forfeiture of a building belonging to Adebayo Sanni, immediate past Executive Director of Harmony Holdings Limited of Kwara State Government.
Justice Sikiru Oyinloye of a Kwara State High Court sitting in Ilorin granted the application filed by the counsel to the EFCC, Sesan Ola after the respondent failed to show up in Court to challenge the legality of the proceedings.
Our agenda for cocoa in Kwara, by AbdulRazaq
Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has said his administration has raised 50,000 hybrid Cocoa seedlings, which will be distributed to farmers at affordable prices once they mature in 18 months.
“This is being done with a view to ensuring the prompt and effective rehabilitation and regeneration of the aged Cocoa plantations or farms existing in the State,” Governor AbdulRazaq disclosed at the recent Cocoa Farmers’ Roundtable Conference held at Cocoa House, Oke Onigbin, in Isin Local Government Area of the State.
Represented by the State Commissioner for Agricultural and Rural Development, Mrs Adenike Afolabi-Oshatimehin, AbdulRazaq said the government would establish a Cocoa nursery in the State to serve as the genuine source of planting materials for the farmers.
“In this fiscal year, we plan to resuscitate the training and retraining of cocoa farmers on good agricultural practices through the Farmers Field School (FFS) and Farmers Business School (FBS) respectively. This is being done with a view to enhancing the quality of the cocoa beans being produced in the State. In addition, we also intend to look into prospects of being able to possibly address extant challenges associated with some of the critical input requirements of cocoa farmers in the state,” he added.
Governor AbdulRazaq explained that the present administration understands that lack of basic social amenities, physical infrastructure, et al, could constitute disincentives for farming in agrarian communities in the State, saying “it is for this reason and more that we are committing significant resources to road construction, healthcare, water and basic education in the 2020 budget, which has just been passed and assented to.”
“Agriculture occupies a vantage position under this administration. We have invested a lot of money to reposition the sector, beginning with the N200m counterpart fund for RAAMP III and another N49.78m FADAMA counterpart fund, among others. We have also made appreciable budgetary provisions for agriculture this year, while also engaging the Federal Government and private investors on how to grow the sector in the State.”
He assured the farmers that the administration remains firmly committed to rebuilding and reconstructing the state for the good of all and for the benefit of children yet unborn.
“Since we came on board, our administration has given so much attention to Cocoa because of its extensive value chain — just as we are doing with sugarcane and other essential crops and agricultural produce that can be successfully cultivated in the State,” he said.
“Kwara is currently grouped as a minor Cocoa state in Nigeria, owing in part to the perennial migration of cocoa farmers to other states and the seemingly unabated trend of rural-urban migration. This is a narrative that we want to change and as soon as possible.”
AbdulRazaq also congratulated the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) for the event which he said was designed to discuss the way to reposition the Cocoa subsector in Kwara State and other parts of Nigeria, where cocoa could be grown successfully.
He assured the farmers that the administration would work with them to develop the cocoa subsector in the State.
Yusuf Ganiyu Adebisi
Kwara State Ministry of Agric and Rural Development
6th February 2020.
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