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Senate President, Bukola Saraki Denies N2 Billion Corruption Charges
By Samuel Malik
Senate President and former governor of Kwara state, Bukola Saraki, has denied the 13-count corruption charges levelled against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, alleging that the move is politically motivated.
The Senate President, according to Premium Times, an online newspaper, is accused of fraudulent practices related to his asset declarations in 2003, 2007, and 2011 to the tune of more than N2 billion.
In the charge sheets filed by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and signed by M.S. Hassan, a deputy director in the office, Saraki is accused of anticipatory declaration of asset while in office as governor, acquiring assets beyond his official earning, operating a foreign bank account as a public officer, false declaration of assets, among other crimes, all in violation of the Code of Conduct Act and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended.
However, in a statement issued by the Senate President’s spokesman, Saraki refuted the charges, calling them “false, incorrect and untrue.”
“Throughout his career as a public official democratically elected to high public service, Dr Saraki has always held himself, to global standards of transparency and accountability, to a far higher standard of diligence, disclosure, and compliance, than required or even requested by Nigeria’s Code Of Conduct protocols,” Saraki said in the statement said.
“Dr Saraki has always, lawfully and accountably, declared his assets, both directly owned, and in which he may derive any historical and on-going degree of beneficial interest,” he further said.
While faulting the charges, which he said ought to be filed by the Attorney General of the Federation, a position occupied by the Minister of Justice, who is yet to be appointed, Saraki questioned the CCB’s rationale for bringing the issue up, 12 years since he first declared his assets.
“We believe that the Code of Conduct Bureau following their processes in which after a declaration is submitted to the bureau they carried out verification of the assets and ascertained the claims made, should not wait till 12 years later to be pointing out an alleged inconsistencies in a document submitted to it in 2003.
“We are of the opinion that present effort is a desperate move initiated due to external influence and interference,” the statement explained.
In the first charge, the Senate President is accused of declaring in 2003 that he acquired No. 15A and 15B McDonald, Ikoyi, Lagos in 2000 through his company, Carlisle Properties Limited, but it was found out that the said property was actually sold to him in 2006 by the Implementation Committee on Federal Government Landed Properties through his companies, Tiny Tee Limited and Vitti Oil Limited at a sum total of N396.15 million.
The second charge relates to an acquisition that was alleged to be beyond his income as a public officer. According to the charge, between 2006 and 2007, while he was the governor of Kwara State, Saraki acquired No. 17A and 17B McDonald, Ikoyi, Lagos, from the Implementation Committee on Federal Government Landed Properties at a cost of N497.2 million, “which was not fairly attributable to your income, gift or loan approved by the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.”
Saraki had, according to the document, lied that he bought the property from proceeds of sale of rice and sugar.
He is also accused of refusing to declare, while leaving office as governor in 2011, Plots 2A and 37A Glover Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, which he bought through his company Carlisle Properties Limited, each at the cost of N325 million. The former was acquired from the CBN, the document states.
Also, in 2003, he refused to declare his properties in Abuja, namely No. 1 Tagus Street, Maitama, otherwise known as Plot 2482, Cadastral Zone A06, which he claimed in 2011 to have acquired from one David Baba Kawu in 1996. He failed to declare this property in 2007, when he was re-elected as governor.
In 2007, having been re-elected for a second term as governor, Saraki refused to declare No. 3 Tagus Street, Maitama, otherwise known as Plot 2481, Cadastral Zone A06, Abuja, which he purchased from one Alhaji Attahiru Adamu through Carlisle Properties Limited before he became governor. He also refused to declare this property in 2011 at the end of his tenure as governor of Kwara state.
Saraki, according to the documents, in 2003 fraudulently declared that he earned N110 million per annum from his property located at No. 42 Gerald Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, through his company, Skyview Properties Limited, when in reality the property was under construction.
He failed in 2011 to declare a 2010 loan of N375 million received from Guaranty Trust Bank domiciliary account no: 441441953210, which he converted to £1, 516, 194 and paid to Fortis Bank SA/NV as mortgage payment for an undisclosed property he bought in London.
Between 2008 and 2012, Saraki allegedly transferred more than $3 million from his Guaranty Trust Bank domiciliary account no: 441441953210 to his foreign bank account with American Express Bank, New York, card No: 374588216836009 through the American Express Services Europe No: 730580.
The former governor in 2003 again failed to declare his leasehold interest in No. 42 Remi Fanikayode Street, Ikeja, Lagos, acquired in 1996 from First Finance Trust Limited through his company Skyview Properties Limited.
Since controversially emerging as Senate President in June, Saraki has been confronted with one trouble or the other, including his silent battle for supremacy against his party, the All Progressives Congress.
In July, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, invited Saraki’s wife, Toyin to answers questions regarding financial dealings while her husband was governor of Kwara State. A month later, the Senate said it was probing the anti-graft agency for alleged diversion of N1 trillion recovered from looters.
Saraki said he was ready to cooperate with relevant agencies in the fight against corruption and will make himself available if needed for questioning, adding that his current travail is a case of corruption fighting back.
“We also note that anytime you try to fight corruption or insist that the right thing should be done, the system will always come after you. This is another case of desperation to fight Dr. Saraki because of his recent stance on national issues,” the statement noted.
See charge sheets below: