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EFCC arraigns Saraki’s cousin over alleged N220m contract scam

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday has arraigned Ope Saraki, a cousin to former Nigerian Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on a two-count charge bordering on contract scam to the tune of N220 million.

The Ilorin Zonal Office of the EFCC had arraigned Saraki before Justice Adenike Akinpelu of the Kwara State High Court sitting in the state.

In a statement disclosed by the commission, Saraki had allegedly got a contract to supply 13 ambulances to general hospitals through a company he had an interest while serving as Special Adviser to the Kwara State government.

Count one of the charges read: “That you, Ope Saraki, sometime in 2012 whilst being the Special Adviser to the governor of Kwara State on Millennium Development Goals within the jurisdiction of this honourable court knowingly acquired indirectly a private interest in contract worth N171m…

“…awarded to Chemistry Nigeria Limited for the purchase of 13 units of ambulances for 13 general/specialist hospitals in Kwara State, contract connected to your office contrary to Section 12 of the corrupt practices and other related offences Act, 2000 and punishable under same law”.

The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge.

In his response, the prosecuting counsel, Sesan Ola, prayed that the court set a trial date in view of the defendant’s plea, and asked that the defendant be remanded in the custody of the Nigeria Correctional Service pending the hearing and determination of the case.

Countering his request, the defence counsel, N. Olatoke urged the court to grant bail to Saraki, pending the hearing and determination of the case. He said his client would not jump bail as the EFCC has in its custody, Saraki’s international passport.

On hearing the arguments of both counsels, Justice Akinpelu granted the sum of N300m bail to the accused person, alongside two sureties with verifiable addresses.

She ruled that the accused, remained in the custody of the EFCC until he perfects his bail conditions.

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The case was later adjourned until April 16, 2020, for further hearing.

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