Following the alleged release of 48 houses belonging to a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva by the EFCC, Sylva has accused the agency of trying to tarnish his name.
Former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva
A former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission are trading words over the ownership of 48 houses allegedly returned to the ex-governor.
Sylva has denied owning 48 houses, as he insisted he owned only three houses in Abuja. But, the EFCC spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, insisted on Monday that the ex-governor owned the 48 houses, allegedly returned to him by a court’s order.
Uwujaren added that the commission had begun fresh moves to challenge the return of the said houses to Sylva before the Court of Appeal.
It was reported yesterday that the EFCC had released 48 properties allegedly owned by Sylva after it had traced and sealed it off. The EFCC had subsequently arraigned the ex-governor for an alleged N19bn fraud and slammed 50 charges against him. However, three Federal High Courts had, however, struck out the case.
In a statement on Monday, Sylva denied ownership of the houses, insisting that he owned only three houses in Abuja. In a statement by his Media Adviser, Mr. Doifie Buokoribo, he described reports that the EFCC released 48 houses belonging to Sylva as “strange, speculative and malicious”, saying he did “not own 48 buildings in Abuja or anywhere in the world.”
The statement read, “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?”
However, the spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed the existence of the houses to one of our correspondents on the telephone.
However, Uwujaren has insisted that the houses belong to Sylva and that the anti-graft agency had begun moves to file an appeal at the appeal court, adding that Sylva should not have access to the properties.
Uwujaren added, “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.”
Uwujaren further revealed that some of the houses 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.