Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has denied any involvement in blackmailing the Central Bank of Nigeria to pay him and other senators N250 million as a way of covering up the arbitrary withdrawal of N60 billion by former National Security Adviser,NSA, Sambo Dasuki, from the security fund approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Street Journal recalls that an online newspaper, Sahara Reporters, had alleged that Saraki and some Senators had blackmailed the CBN to pay them N250 million bribe to allow the arbitrary withdrawal.
A statement issued by Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, said the Senate President has never served in any committee or body with links to defence or national security nor had anything to do with purchase of security equipment.
It described the report as a plot to tarnish Saraki’s reputation, and accused Sahara Reporters of pursuing the singular objective of seeking to remove him from office as Senate President.
The statement reads:
“As a member of the Seventh Senate, Dr. Saraki was not a member of any of the committees which have oversight function on the Ministry of Defence or the intelligence and national security apparatus.
“If he was tagged the leader of the opposition to the Jonathan administration, how then will he be privy to arms purchases and have the influence to blackmail any government agency or institution over the release of funds.
“First, there is no logic in SaharaReporters’ claim, as Dr. Saraki who was persecuted by the last administration could not have had the influence and good standing to walk up to the Central Bank to demand for any money having exposed many atrocities of the past administration.
“Again, on what ground would the Senate President blackmail anyone for 250 Million naira? It must be emphasized here that Dr. Saraki will never engage in any sharp practice or issue which will warrant him to blackmail any individual or government institution.
“Therefore, for record purposes, Dr. Saraki did not collect any money from any official of the CBN in respect of any arms deal. The Senate President also challenged SaharaReporters or any official of the apex bank, Senator, serving or past, who witnessed or participated in any sharing of the alleged money purported to have been received by him, to come out with evidence.
“It should be recalled that SaharaReporters believes it can continue to disparage and defame people claiming that it is operating outside the country. The medium cannot operate above the law.
“The game being played by SaharaReporters and its sponsors is clear. As they have done in previous cases involving the on-going trial of the Senate President at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, they are targeting the Appeal at the Supreme Court coming up on Thursday, December 3rd 2015.
“They want to prejudice the Supreme Court as they have done when they blackmailed a judge of the Federal High Court to withdraw from the case and also published false reports, which compelled the Court of Appeal to postpone its judgment at the last minute.
“Whatever the motive of SaharaReporters, it is high time we employed the instrument of the law to stop this act of impunity aimed at publishing false reports believing the victims will not go to court or be frustrated by its dubious claims that they are domiciled outside Nigeria.
“We urge all Nigerians and other well-meaning individuals across the globe to ignore this absolutely false claim by SaharaReporters. Like we earlier stated, this false claim shall not go unchallenged. We shall meet in court.
“We have allowed SaharaReporters enough latitude to indulge in their unscrupulous and mischievous method of journalism.
“However, enough is enough. We have no option than to commence legal action against Sahara Reporters in all relevant jurisdictions, particularly on the issue of fake passport, false claim of bribery and the recent one on blackmail, all aimed at tarnishing the image of the Senate President.”