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Why EFCC arrested former Senate President Saraki

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FORMER Senate President Bukola Saraki was on Saturday arrested by officials of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The spokesperson for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren confirmed Saraki’s arrest to The ICIR in a telephone conversation on Saturday.

However, Uwujaren said the former Senate President was only invited but refused to disclose the reasons for the invitation.

Saraki was the Senate President between 2015 – 2019 before he failed to win his senatorial district during the 2019 general election.

Before his emergence as the Senate President, Saraki served as a two-term governor of Kwara State between 2003-2011 but his administration has been marred by allegations of corruption.

His arrest is coming about two months after an investigation panel set up by the incumbent governor of the State, Abdul Rahman Abdul Rasaq recommended the prosecution of Saraki over mismanagement of public properties.

Chairman of the panel, Hussein Buhari in his recommendation said nothing short of diligent prosecution, possible jail terms and recovery of many of the properties can avenge the official connivances that led to the pilferage of the State’s assets under Saraki and his predecessor Mohammed Lawal.

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According to the Committee, shares, bonds and some other assets of the state government were sold by the state’s past government within five months of leaving office.

“Also, our shares, bonds and stocks were sold out within five weeks of their leaving office. These are worth billions of naira. Even, the Amoyo International Market in which they claimed that they bought land for over N400m and paid about N200m and also swapped 10 pieces of our land in Abuja for Amoyo land by Harmony Holdings Limited. Personally, Bayo Sanni and Tope Daramola need to be brought to book on the issue.

“On Kwara Mall, it is sad that Kwara State Government put down the sum of N500m, gave land and C of O over the land and they used the C of O to collect another loan in a bank worth N500m and brought nothing to the Kwara State Government. In fact, the sharing formula is 70 percent to 30 percent. That is, 30 percent to the state government that put down everything,” Buhari said.

The panel also alleged misappropriation of government funds in the establishment of Shonga Farms and the activities of individuals who served in the Bureau of Lands and Surveying Office of the state.

In 2016, the Supreme Court consented to Saraki’s trial over criminal offences committed when in office as governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011 to the tune of over N10 billion.

Also in 2018, a federal high court sitting in Lagos ordered the forfeiture of a property belonging to Saraki over illegal acquisition. The property is located No. 17A McDonald Road, Ikoyi, Eti Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State.

The order was granted following an application by the EFCC that Saraki acquired the properties through proceeds of unlawful activities.

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According to the EFCC, Saraki allegedly withdrew over N12 billion in cash from the Kwara State Government account out of which some of the money was deposited into his domiciliary accounts in Access and Zenith banks through Abdul Adama, one of his personal assistants at different times.

While serving as the Senate President of Nigeria, Saraki was arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over making an anticipatory declaration of assets as well as withholding information concerning his assets when he served as Kwara State governor between 2003 – 2011.

However, he was completely discharged of the case on July 6, 2018, by the CCT panel chairman, Danladi Umar who ruled that the evidence tendered by the prosecution was insufficient to make good the charges he was charged with.

A spokesperson to Saraki Yusuf Olaniyonu did not respond to calls and a text message from The ICIR concerning his principal’s arrest.

Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via [email protected], on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

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