The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) and a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, may have to slug it out in court over the existence and the ownership of 48 houses allegedly traced to the ex-governor. While the EFCC spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, insisted on Monday that Sylva owns the 48 houses, the former governor says he owns only three houses in the federal capital city. Recall there were reports earlier this week that Sylva had retrieved 48 properties allegedly owned by him from the EFCC. Uwujaren however said the anti-graft agency may begin fresh moves to challenge the return of the said houses to Sylva before the Court of Appeal.
In a statement on Monday, Sylva denied ownership of the houses, insisting that he owned only three houses in Abuja. According to him, “We have read a report in a national newspaper, which was reproduced by a few online publications and in the social media, claiming that Chief Timipre Sylva had ‘retrieved 48 of his properties, which the EFCC seized during the administration of (former President) Goodluck Jonathan. We view this report with disgust, given its unconcealed speculation and vindictiveness regarding such a sensitive matter.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Sylva does not own 48 buildings in Abuja or anywhere in the world. So the issue of reclaiming ‘48 houses’ does not arise. He has only three houses in Abuja, which he built before he became the governor of Bayelsa State. This point has been made several times before, and neither the EFCC nor those who had used EFCC as a tool of persecution against Sylva during the Goodluck Jonathan administration have contradicted this fact.
“EFCC had taken their allegations of property ownership against Sylva to several courts without establishing anything against the former governor during the Jonathan era. Beyond the commission’s routine media prosecution, no court of law has found Sylva guilty of any crime. Indeed, in the course of the trial at the Federal High Court, Abuja, owners of some of the properties wrongfully attributed to him joined to claim their houses. The court ruled on the matter of the said 48 properties since 2013. Why is it now a subject of media attention?”
The EFCC spokesman told PUNCH correspondent that, “I have just spoken to Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), who is in charge of the case. He confirmed to me that the EFCC has begun moves to appeal the case which means that he (Sylva) should have no access to the houses.” Some of the houses, according to Uwujaren, include a mansion at 3 River Niger Street, Plot 3192 Cadastral Zone AO, Maitama District, Abuja; nine units (comprising six one-bedroom and three two-bedroom apartments) at 8 Sefadu Street, Wuse, Zone 2, Plot 262 Cadastral Zone AO2, Wuse, Abuja, and two duplexes at 5 Oguta Street, Plot 906 Cadastral Zone, Wuse II, Abuja.
Others include a duplex on Plot 1271 Nike Street, Cadastral Zone AO5, Maitama District, Abuja; a duplex at Phase 1 Unit No. 1 (Villa 1) Palm Springs Gold Estate, Cachez Turkey Projects Limited, Mpape, Abuja; 10 units of one-room apartments at 8 Mistrata Street, Plot 232 Cadastral Zone, Wuse II, Abuja; five units duplexes on Plot No 1070 Dakibiyu District, Cadastral Zone B10, Abuja; 16 units service apartments at Plot 1181 Thaba Tseka Crescent, off IBB Way, Wuse II, Abuja, and three units of three-bedroom flats at No. 1 Mubi Close, Plot 766 Cadastral Zone A01, Garki, Abuja.