- Senate president Bukola Saraki alleged that the EFCC is witch-hunting him
- Saraki said the anti-graft agency is fishing for evidence to use against him when he served as governor of Kwara state for eight years
- The Senate president added that the EFCC has also constituted a fresh team to investigate the Office of the Senate president under him, a move, he claimed is unprecedented
The president of the senate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of fishing for evidence to use against him when he served as governor of Kwara state for eight years.
The Senate president said the letter sent by EFCC to Kwara state government about his earnings when he was the state governor was mere witch-hunt exercise which is aimed at "settling scores, laced with malicious and partisan motives," Leadership reports.
Saraki made this known in a statement signed by his special adviser on media and publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu.
He said some people are jealous that the he was honoured as an ambassador by a reputable organization hence the effort to blackmail him.
The statement reads: “We have noted a statement issued yesterday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in reaction to a news story published by a national newspaper, based on the letter written by the commission to the Kwara state government in which it demanded for all details of salaries, allowances, estacode or any other entitlement enjoyed by Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, the president of the Senate, during his tenure as governor of Kwara state between 2003 and 2011.
“While we have kept quiet over the series of letters sent to various institutions where Dr Saraki had served or is serving in which the commission stated that it is conducting various investigations, we are compelled to make our positions known on the less than noble and patriotic objectives behind these investigations because we believe it is a mere witch-hunt exercise, aimed at settling scores, laced with malicious and partisan motives."
The statement added that Saraki's tenure as Kwara state governor has been investigated several times and nothing was found against him.
“At this point, we need to remind members of the public that Dr. Saraki’s tenure as Kwara state governor has been investigated several times since his last months in office in 2010 till date.
"In fact, at a point, as incumbent governor, he voluntarily waived his immunity and submitted to investigation and yet nothing was found against him. Also, members of the public should be reminded that during the proceedings of his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) between 2015 and 2018, it became clear that the evidence relied upon was from investigations conducted by the EFCC on his tenure as governor and that is why the lead witness for the prosecution was an EFCC agent, Michael Wetkas.
"Yet, the CCT in its judgement dismissed the 16 charges filed against Dr Saraki and that verdict was upheld by the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court,” the statement continued.
According to Saraki, the new investigation into his activities as governor of Kwara state is a repeat performance and a witch-hunt.
“The EFCC is fishing for evidence that they did not get in the past investigations which has spanned almost nine years. However, we need to remind the commission that Dr. Saraki is not an outgoing governor. Since 2011, tens of governors have been in and out of our various State Houses.
“Like wise, hundreds of senators and representatives have been in and out of the National Assembly. To single out one individual for persistent investigation can only be logically and plausibly interpreted to be a witch-hunt. This is definitely no fight against corruption. It is a battle waged against a ‘political enemy’. It is a ‘label to damage’ plot,” the statement said.
The EFCC, according to the statement, has also "constituted a fresh team to investigate the Office of the Senate president and despatched another letter late last week to the Clerk of the Senate signed by Mohammed Umar Abba, Director of Operations, in which it requested for the following:
“the Certified True Copies of the following: i) All Cash Books, Payment Vouchers, Contract Award Letters, Evidence of Contract Bidding, Agreement and Certificate of Contract Completion from 2015 to date. ii) Certified True Copies of all Financial Retirement made within the same period. iii) Any other information that may assist the Commission in its investigation”.
The EFCC's move is unprecedented as it is the first time such a letter is written to the office of the Senate president , the statement claimed.
“We observed that this type of letter was only written to the Office of the Senate President and not to both chambers of the National Assembly. Also, it is the first time such a letter is written to the office of the Senate President at the twilight of the tenure of the National Assembly indicating hostile investigation along these lines.
"None of his predecessors got such ‘exclusive’ treatment in which their office was investigated by state officials seeking to nail them at all cost. What EFCC does not know is that all the issues they are seeking to probe in the office of the Senate President are handled by the National Assembly Management, that is the bureaucracy of the federal legislature. The Senate President has nothing to do with such issues. However, in the eagerness and desperation to nail Dr Saraki, they ignored even the basic facts upon which the entire investigation rests."
The statement further claimed that the EFCC's move may not be unconnected to the refusal of the Senate to confirm Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the EFCC.
“Some people who have called Dr Saraki about the EFCC statement have wondered whether this is the commission’s way of settling scores by blaming the non-confirmation of its acting chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu, on the leadership of the Senate. For those who reason in this direction, our response has always been that the decision not to clear Magu was not a personal issue between both men.
"It was an institutional decision which was taken on a day that the public freely follows the proceedings through live coverage on television. This was done to avoid accusations that some people seized the process to deliberately deny Mr Magu fair hearing,” the statement said.
Saraki said the usual claim by the EFCC that its actions were directed against corrupt elements does not apply to him adding that he is a man who at every point in his public service life sought to institute transparency and accountability in governance.
Legit.ng notes that alleged fresh EFCC probe comes days after the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC) announced the appointment of Saraki as an ambassador.
The IHCR had, in a letter dated March 16, 2019 and signed by Ambassador Friday Sani, the Diplomatic Head of the Commission to Nigeria and other African Countries, stated that Dr. Saraki has been appointed as one of the revered Ambassadors-at-Large of the multinational body.
The outgoing Senate president who accepted the nomination is expected to lead the diplomatic team of the IHRC in various diplomatic missions across the world.
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