Timipre Sylva, an erstwhile Governor of Bayelsa State, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have locked horns over the existence and the ownership of 48 houses allegedly traced to the ex-governor.
While Sylva was of the opinion that only three houses in Abuja, belonged to him, the spokesman of the premier anti-graft agency Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, maintained on Monday that the ex-governor owned the 48 houses, allegedly returned to him by a court’s order.
The spokesman also averred that the anti-corruption agency had commenced fresh moves to object to the return of the said houses to Sylva before the Court of Appeal, adding that the ex-governor should not have access to the properties.
Uwujaren said: “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’s statement is coming on the heels of Sylva’s rebuttal on the ownership of the 48 houses, insisting that he owned only three houses in Abuja.
The former governor had yesterday through his Media Adviser, Mr. Doifie Buokoribo, referred to the report as “strange, speculative and malicious”, saying he did “not own 48 buildings in Abuja or anywhere in the world,” threatening legal action.
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?”