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Saraki Diverted N10bn From Kwara, N100m Monthly, EFCC Tells Court

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Saraki

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday alleged that a former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, diverted not less than N10billion belonging to Kwara State.

It told the Federal High Court in Lagos that Saraki diverted the sum in monthly tranches of N100million between 2003 and 2011 while he was Kwara State governor.

The anti-graft agency claimed that Saraki spent N1.09billion out of the N10b Federal allocation to build two houses in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

The commission’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, prayed Justice Rilwan Aikawa to forfeit the houses to the Federal Government.

But the ex-governor denied the allegations through his lawyer, Mr Kehinde Ogunwunmiju (SAN) and opposed the prayer for forfeiture.

Justice Aikwa adjourned till April 27 for judgment.

The EFCC had on December 2, 2019 obtained an order temporarily forfeiting the houses – Plots No. 10 and No. 11 Abdulkadir Road, GRA, Ilorin, Kwara State – to the Federal Government.

Thursday, Oyedepo applied that the interim forfeiture order be made permanent.

He drew the judge’s attention to an affidavit filed before the court by an EFCC officer, Bilikisu Buhari.

Buhari averred in the document that while Saraki was Kwara State governor, he diverted N100m on a monthly basis from state’s federal allocation.

She said the N100m was usually diverted from the Kwara State Government account to the account of the Kwara State Government House.

She said following the transfer, one Mr. Afeez Yusuf, acting on Saraki’s instructions, usually withdrew the money from the Kwara State Government House account and took the cash to the Government House.

“After the funds were stacked in the Kwara State Government House, it was then fraudulently dissipated and taken away in cash by Messrs Abdul Adama, Ubi Ofem and Ubi Austin, acting on the instructions and direction of Dr Bukola Saraki in violent breach of public trust.

“In this scheme of fraud alone, about N10bn was fraudulently diverted from the treasury of the Kwara State Government.

“Part of the proceeds of the aforementioned fraud was reasonably suspected to have been comingled with other funds used for the development of the property sought to be forfeited,” she alleged.

Buhari said Adama, Ofem and Austin, using fictitious name, usually paid the diverted N100m into the bank accounts of contractors who built the houses.

But opposing the prayer of permanent forfeiture, Ogunwunmiju said the houses were built from Saraki’s legitimate earnings.

The SAN said N252.2m out of the N1.09bn used for developing the property represented what Saraki was paid for the development of a five-bedroom apartment, which he was entitled to as a two-term governor.

Ogunwunmiju referenced the Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law 2010 of Kwara State, which stipulated that an elected two-term governor of the state was entitled to a five- and four-bedroomed duplex, respectively, at any location of their choice within Kwara State.

He said rather than allow the state to build the house for him; Saraki chose to collect N252.2m so he could add money to it to build a house to his taste.

Ogunwunmiju contended that if it was true, as alleged by the EFCC, that the document leading to the release of the N252.2m was forged by an official of the Kwara State Government, still the payment to Saraki was not illegitimate because it was provided for under the law.

He urged the court to dismiss the EFCC’s application for being an abuse of court processes, saying the same issues had been taken before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court where Saraki was vindicated.

But counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, insisted that as long as Saraki failed to explain how he came about the over N700m, which he added to the N252.2m to develop their houses, the houses were liable to be forfeited.

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AfDB Approves Independent Probe Of Adesina

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Akinwumi Adesina

The Boards of Governors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has finally bowed to US pressure and has ordered an independent probe of President of the bank Akinwumi Adesina.

The board of governors reached the decision on Thursday June 4, in spite of sitting and former African leaders’ campaign for the bank to ignore the call for an independent investigation of allegations against Adesina as he has already been cleared by the bank’s ethics committee.

In a communique signed by the Chairperson of the bank’s Bureau of the Boards of Governors Niale Kaba, it was gathered that the independent review will be carried out by a neutral high calibre individuals with unquestionable experience, high international reputation and integrity within a short time period of not more than two to four weeks maximum.

The board also admitted that the ethics committee performed its role on the matter in accordance with the applicable role under resolution B/BG/2008/11.

It reads: “The Bureau reiterates that it agrees that the Ethics Committee of the Boards of Directors performed its role on this matter in accordance with the applicable rule under Resolution B/BG/2008/11 of the Board of Governors.

“The Bureau also reiterates that the Chairperson of the Bureau of the Board ofGovernors performed her role in accepting the findings of the Ethics Committee in accordance with the said Resolution.

“However, based on the views of some Governors on the matter and the need to carry every Governor along in resolving it, the Bureau agrees to authorize an Independent Review of the Report of the Ethics Committee of the Boards of Directors relative to the allegations considered by the Ethics Committee and the submissions made by the President of the Bank Group thereto in the interest of due process.

“The Independent Review shall be conducted by a neutral high calibre individual with unquestionable experience, high international reputation and integrity within a short time period of not more than two to four weeks maximum, taking the Bank Group’s electoral calendar into account.

“The Bureau agrees that, within a three to six month period and following the independent review of the Ethics Committee Report, an independent comprehensive review of the implementation of the Bank Group’s Whistle-Blowing and Complaints Handling Policy should be conducted with a view to ensuring that the Policy is properly implemented, and revising it where necessary, to avoid situations of this nature in the future.”

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Reps Reject Castration As Punishment For Rapists

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The House of Representatives has rejected the recommendation for castration of rapists.

The Nation reports that the reps voted against a prayer seeking to recommend castration for rapists at the plenary on Thursday, considered and adopted a motion on the rising cases of sexual violence in Nigeria.

A member of the house, Mr James Faleke, had recommended that persons found guilty of rape should be castrated.

The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, however, asked what would happen to an older female who rapes a younger male, just before the prayer was subjected to a voice vote.

The House of Representative put the prayer to vote and it was rejected by the majority.

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Ogoni: We’ve Started Clean-up At 57 Sites — FG

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The Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, says no fewer than 57 sites at Ogoni land in Rivers are being cleaned up currently.

Abubakar made the disclosure while speaking with State House correspondents on Wednesday in Abuja, saying that he had presented a report on the ministry’s mandate to a meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

The virtual meeting was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The Ogoni cleanup in the past has been a story. Finally, President Buhari came in 2016 and the contract was given out.

“We are currently cleaning 21 plus 36 sites in Ogoni land. All these are impacted areas with hydrocarbon — a very big project.

“The world is watching this project because of the nature of hydrocarbons and what they can cause to the environment and the people living there.’’

The minister said that planting of 25 million trees was also in the fore burner and that the ministry was collaborating with state governments on the project.

Abubakar said that the Federal Ministry of Environment was one of the implanting ministries of the 774, 000 jobs approved by the president.

“So, those skilled and unskilled labours are coming through the ministry. About 200, 000 people will be employed plus additional 2,000, who are going to be employed by the erosion department of the ministry.’’

He said that the ministry was also handling waste recycling, describing waste management as a big project.

Abubakar said that waste management entailed waste reduction, waste recycling, waste re-use and waste recovery, among others.

According to him, it is no longer fashionable to produce, use and dispose waste.

The minister said that his report to FEC also covered efforts being made on erosion control in the South East and the upper North areas of the country.

“We have two programmes on erosion control. One is being handled by the department in the ministry of environment, which is in charge of mostly conventional erosion.

“Then, we have the big one which is being sponsored by the World Bank and we call that Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project.

“The project deals with gully erosion — huge erosion that will gulp houses and you know South-East is prone to this type of erosion because of the geologic nature of the area.’’

On job creation, the minister said that the Ogoni cleanup had created 765 jobs, adding that more jobs would be created through the cleanup.

He said that a programme on training of 400 women in agriculture, aquaculture and poultry was also underway.

“We have the National Generator Emission Control Programme that will be coming on line.

“These are jobs that will be crated immediately after COVID-19,’’ said the minister.

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