Saraki accuses EFCC of witch-hunt as commission seeks another forfeiture order on Ilorin home
Former senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday described the new court process filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the interim order of the court for the forfeiture of his home in Ilorin was a witch-hunt meant to embarrass him.
He also said the process filed in the federal high court, Lagos, was an abuse of court and violation of an existing order of a court of similar jurisdiction.
A statement by the special adviser, media and publicity to the former senate president, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said move, just like the previous one the anti-graft agency made by filing for a similar in the same court on Saraki’s Ikoyi house, was also a disrespect of the judicial institution.
According to him, the action of the EFCC amounted to “forum shopping”, which had shown that the commission was only engaging in act of vendetta as opposed to fighting corruption.
He said the action of the EFCC was contrary to the stand of t Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed, on the adherence to rule of law.
The statement quoted Mohammed to have said, “The rule of law must be observed in all our dealings and we must impress it on the governments at all levels to actively toe the path. The right of every citizen against any form of oppression and impunity must be jealously guarded and protected with the legal tools at our disposal. All binding court orders must be obeyed. Nobody, irrespective of his or her position, will be allowed to toy with court judgements. As we all know, flagrant disobedience of court orders is a direct invitation to anarchy in the country. Such acts are completely antithetical to the rule of law in a democratic environment and will not be tolerated under my watch as Chief Justice or Nigeria”
Saraki also expressed surprised that EFCC which prides itself as an institution that is built on the rule of law has decided to ignore the existing order of the Federal High Court, Abuja “restraining the respondents (Commission) by themselves, their subordinates, agents, servants, or privies howsoever, from seizing, impounding, taking over, confiscating or otherwise forfeiting the Applicant’s (Saraki) right to own and peacefully enjoy any of his assets and properties”.
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It further stated, “Again, instead of the EFCC consolidating its cases by joining the new application with the old one it earlier filed through which the commission got an interim order of forfeiture which is already being challenged by Dr Saraki in the Federal High Court, Lagos, it decided to proliferate litigation by filing a fresh matter, all in an attempt to embarrass the former Senate President and ignore an existing order. The Commission was engaging in this rigmarole in order to ensure it has different cases before different judges against the same person.
“The decision of the EFCC to file for a forfeiture order before a Federal High Court in Lagos on a property based in Ilorin also amounts to forum shopping, an act which an institution which seeks to be respected in the international community should not engage in. The new move only shows the level of desperation of the EFCC to nail Dr Saraki at all cost and by all means possible”.
The statement added that the Ilorin home of Saraki was built after he left office as governor with his lawful pensions and personal fund, saying the application for forfeiture of the property amounted to witch-hunt, abuse of power and miscarriage of justice.
“While we insist that Dr Saraki is ready to meet the anti-graft agency in court, we reiterate the firm belief of the former Senate President in the rule of law, the sanctity of the judiciary and ability of the nation’s courts to serve the cause of justice in all matters and to all persons”, read the statement.