A former Governor of Bayelsa State and All Progressives Congress (APC) Chieftain, Timipre Sylva, has described as “wholly speculative and vindictive”, reports that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, returned 48 houses it seized from him.
Sylva, who spoke through his media aide, Doifie Buokoribo, on Monday, said neither he, nor the courts had at any time, confirmed his ownership of such property.
An Abuja Division of the Federal High Court had in June 2015 dismissed a case of alleged N19.2 billion fraud brought against the former governor by the EFCC.
The court’s dismissal of the case led to the recent media speculation that the houses, which were under investigation and confiscated by the anti-graft agency, had been returned to him.
RELATED POST: EFCC Returns Seized 48 Houses To Timipre Sylva
But in a statement by Buokoribo, the former Bayelsa governor threatened legal action against publishers of the report.
He threatened legal action against publishers of the report.
Among properties seized and reported to have been returned to Mr. Sylva, who was Bayelsa governor between 2009 and 2012 are: a mansion at 3 River Niger Street, plot 3192 Cadastral zone AO, Maitama District Abuja; nine units (comprising six one bedroom and 3 two bedroom apartments) at 8 Sefadu Street Wuse zone 2, plot 262 Cadastral zone AO2, Wuse Abuja; and 2 units duplexes at 5 Oguta Street, plot 906 Cadastral zone Wuse 11 Abuja.
Others are: a duplex at 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 11 Abuja; 5 units duplexes at Plot No 1070 Dakibiyu District Cadastral zone B10, Abuja; 16 units service apartments at Plot 1181 Thaba Tseka Crescent, Off IBB Way, Wuse 11, Abuja and 3 units of three- bedroom flats at No. 1 Mubi Close, Plot 766. Cadastral Zone A01, Garki, Abuja. Sylva was first arraigned on Tuesday June 5, 2012.
The statement reads in part: “We have a read 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 property which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission seized during the administration of 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”.
The statement, however, affirmed that the APC chieftain had only three houses in Abuja which he built before he won election to become governor of Bayelsa.
It said this point had been made several times before, and neither EFCC nor those who had used EFCC as a tool of persecution against Sylva during the Goodluck Jonathan administration, had contradicted it.
“EFCC had taken their allegations of property ownership against Sylva to several courts without establishing anything against the former governor during the Jonathan era”, it said.
“Beyond the commission’s routine media prosecution, no court of law has found Sylva guilty of any crime.
“Indeed, in the course of the trials 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? Clearly, this is a sponsored publication”.
The statement said Mr. Sylva frowned at the malicious audacity of the publishers of such a story, or their sponsors, despite warnings by the courts against media prosecutions and persecutions like this one, and the attempts by the EFCC to burnish its image that was mindlessly battered during the last administration.
It said, “After failing to prove any crime against Sylva in a democratic court of law for the past four years, this latest media show is another desperate attempt to rubbish him politically.
“To correct the wrong impression that sponsors of the falsehood against him are, obviously, trying to create, Sylva has instructed his lawyers to take legal action against publishers of the fake story”.