By Balkis Tijani.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has accused former Senate President Bukola Saraki of diverting N12bn in cash from the Kwara State treasury while as governor of the state between 2003 and 2011.
According to the EFCC, the alleged looted funds were utilized by the ex-Senate President to repay a N1.36bn bank loan he had taken to facilitate the purchase of properties located at 15, 15A, 17, 17A and four flats on Macdonald Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The EFCC, explaining further, disclosed that Saraki had through his companies, taken loans worth N1.36bn from Guaranty Trust Bank and Intercontinental Bank (now Access Bank) between 2005 and 2006.
The anti-graft agency also revealed that in order to meet up with the payment of the loan, Saraki began diverting N100m monthly from the state purse.
The EFCC prayed Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, to annul the ex parte order preventing the commission from investigating and prosecuting Saraki, while stating in its counter-affidavit that the commission has established a case of money laundering, criminal breach of trust and conspiracy by the former Senate President.
The affidavit stated, “The personal loans used to acquire the properties were later liquidated with the proceeds of the applicant’s (Saraki’s) criminal breach of trust or misappropriation of funds of the Kwara State Government.
“The applicant (Saraki) procured one Abdul Adama who was his personal member of staff to receive cash from then-Controller of Finance and Account of Government House, Kwara State, Mr Isiaka Kareem, on a monthly basis, the sum of N100m.
“While the applicant was the governor of Kwara State, the total sum of N12bn was withdrawn in cash from the Kwara State Government House’s account domiciled in Zenith Bank.”
The commission also refuted claims it was being engineered by the All Progressives Congress, APC, adding that the fresh investigation of Saraki differs from the ones conducted by the Code of Conduct Bureau.
Responding to the allegation, Saraki accused his political adversaries of being behind the move, while emphasizing on the alleged revenge mission of the acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu whom he hinted was getting back at him because of the role he (Saraki) played in preventing his confirmation as EFCC chairman.
The former Senate President said, “Apart from the instigation by my political adversaries, my close contacts have confirmed to me that the 4th respondent (EFCC) renewed its harassment as a way of punishing me for the decision of the Senate not to clear acting chairman of the EFCC, Alhaji Ibrahim Magu, to be appointed as the substantive chairman of the commission.”
The court adjourned the case till July 2, 2019.