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EFCC Arraigns Senator Saraki’s Relative, Former Aide Over N371m Fraud
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday, arraigned Ope Saraki, a cousin to former Kwara State governor, Bukola Saraki, now a senator, and Olatunji Oyeyemi Moronfoye, the Kwara State commissioner of Information, before a Federal High Court, Ilorin for allegedly defrauding the state of over N371m.
Saraki was arraigned alongside his companies, Cogent Integrated Service Nigeria Limited and Ladida Support Service Limited on a five count charge on offenses ranging from abuse of office, diversion of public funds and money laundering.
Saraki, who is presently the senior special adviser on Millennium Development Goals to Kwara State governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, was alleged to have duped the state by procuring 13 Hiace buses from a local car dealer which he converted to ambulances in place of factory built ambulances.
A contract of N171, 990,000.00 was awarded to Chemiroy Nigeria Limited, a firm owned by him for the fraudulent deal.
Moronfoye is accused of corrupt enrichment for allegedly awarding contracts to the tune of over N200m for the renovation of Ijagbo Primary Health Centre and other specialist hospitals within the state to a company in which he had interest and was the sole signatory to its account.
Prosecutors allege that Moronfoye carried out the illegal acts while he was the senior special adviser to the senior Saraki when he was governor.
One of the counts read:
“That you, Ope Saraki being the Special Adviser on Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to Governor of Kwara State sometime in 2012 at Ilorin within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did by undue interest conducted procurement fraud in the procurement of 13 Units of Ambulance for 13 General/Specialist Hospitals in Kwara State at the sum of N171,990, 000.00 (One Hundred and Seventy One Million, Nine Hundred and Ninety Thousand Naira only) a contract awarded to Chemiroy Nigeria Limited and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 58 (4) (b) of the Public procurement Act, 2007 and punishable under Section 58 (5) of the same Act”.
The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to them.
After the charges were read, counsel to EFCC Joseph O. Uzor urged the court to fix a date for commencement of trial.
Counsel to Moronfoye, J.O. Olatoke however applied for bail on behalf of his client saying the accused had not violated the conditions of the administrative bail he had been on since 2013.
He also told the court that the accused suffered from a peculiar ailment that required the use of a respirator consistently to sustain his life. According to him, the prison service does not have the medical facility to treat and maintain the health condition of the accused.
However, Uzor countered, saying the accused could be evasive if granted bail.”
Uzor argued that the Nigeria Prisons Service had well organized medical facilities in its locations across the country with equipments and competent manpower to attend to any ailment. He however urged the court to exercise its discretion appropriately.
The judge, A.O. Faji subsequently granted the accused bail in the sum of N50m with the production of two sureties in like sum. He also ordered the accused to report to the EFCC head office every three weeks and equally notify EFCC whenever he intends to travel outside the country.
In Saraki’s case, Justice Faji adopted his earlier ruling on the bail application granted Moronfoye after Saraki’s counsel applied for bail.
But while Moronfoye retains custody of his international passport, Saraki was ordered to deposit his with the court.
Morontoye and Saraki’s cases have been adjourned to September 22, 2015 and October 20, 2015 respectively, for hearing.