Few weeks to the end of Bukola Saraki’s presidency at the Senate, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has swooped on five choice properties linked to the Kwara born politician located in the upscale Ikoyi area of Lagos State.
The properties were sealed off by anti graft Commission over the weekend citing ongoing investigation of the politician.
It was gathered that the agency is in the process of approaching a court for an order for the interim forfeiture of the properties, pending the conclusion of Saraki’s trial for allegations against him.
The mansions under seal include 15, 15A, 17 and 17A McDonald Road, Ikoyi.
The commission suspects Saraki of having acquired the properties with state funds when he served as Kwara State Governor between 2003 and 2011.
It also believes that he has not declared them.
The anti-graft agency is currently probing Saraki’s earnings and acquisitions while in office.
The investigation covers how a N17bn bond of the state was spent; allocations to the state from the Federation Account during his tenure; and some suspicious transactions by the state government in the administration of the outgoing Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State.
An EFCC source said of the probe: “It is an ongoing case which has to do with alleged illegally acquired properties while he held sway as the governor of Kwara State.
“We have attached the five properties in line with sections 27(4), 28 and 29 of the EFCC Establishment Act.”
The source added: “We don’t have to obtain a court order before attaching any property. Our Act is very clear with regards to that.
“Once you link a property to proceeds of crime, the next thing is to attach it by way of marking and to approach the court for forfeiture.”
Also being investigated by EFCC in respect of the N17bn Kwara State bond are outgoing Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and the Accountant-General of the state.
The agency wants to establish how the money was spent.
The anti-graft agency suspects that part of the funds may have been diverted for private use.
The bond was intended for 13 projects and loan refinancing package during the tenures of Saraki as Governor and Ahmed, who is his successor.
The projects are Aviation College –(N1.5b budgeted, N2.448, 663, 386.56b spent); Asa Dam Mixed Use Development Project (N2b); Kwara State University (N1b); Ilorin Water Distribution Project (N2b allocated, N3.736b spent); Shonga Irrigation Project (N2.9b allocated, N882.9 million paid to contractor); Kwara Advanced Diagnostic Centre( N750m allocated, N1.861b spent); Urban roads (N1.5b allocated but N1.609b spent); Rural and Feeder roads(N200m); Ilorin Metropolitan Street Lights Project(N250m); Kwara Vocational Centre (N650m); Loan refinancing (No evidence of payment of N2.4b to AFDB); Ilorin Township Stadium Project—N1b allocated but N1, 117 430, 700.54 spent; Electrification Project—N462, 144, 291.10; Kwara Mall Project—N500m allocated, $2m deposit in another account
The EFCC has already interrogated the Secretary to the State Government, two Permanent Secretaries, the Accountant-General of the state, and about three contractors.
All those invited were said to have made “voluntary statements.”
Two ex-commissioners and two members of the House of Representatives might be questioned too.
But a government source in the State accused EFCC of embarking on a “wild goose chase because the bond has been fully repaid since 2014 without any outstanding liability for the people of Kwara State.”
Saraki, had through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu described the latest probe as a witch-hunt.
Olaniyonu in a statement said: “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 said.
“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. Likewise, 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.”