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EFCC vs Saraki; who doesn’t have skeleton in his cupboard!

Salihu Ayatullahi

Late last year, like the federal government knows the Saraki dynasty – that had been ruling the state for the last 3 decades – is about to be uprooted, and a lot of proverbial skeletons in the cupboard about to be uncovered, an EFCC office was branched in Ilorin. Every face that passes through the Ahmadu Bello way were anxious as to why the financial watchdog will be situated very close to the seat of power and a large signage poll erected at a point were every government official will take notice, however to everybody -and maybe the commission – little did they know they have more to do after the election.

During the last electioneering process, the EFCC did very well in uncovering a lot of financial transactions by the state government. They announced the discovery of about N1billion cash withdrawal by the Kwara State Government from an account domiciled with Sterling Bank.

According to a report by DailyPost, It was said that the money was disbursed a week before the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

This led to the arrest and interrogation of Commissioner for Finance Nurudeen Banu; Accountant-General Sulaiman Ishola; Commissioner for Water Resources Yusuf Abdulkadir; Head of Service Susan Modupe Oluwole, Special Adviser Commissioner for Energy, Eleja Taiwo Banu; Chief of Staff, Abdulwahab Yusuf; officials of the Secretary to the State Government, and those of the Government House.

According to The Nation, an official of the State Government, Hafees Yusuf, confirmed to the operatives that he got instructions from his “boss” to withdraw some monies sometimes in February 2019.

These may have contributed to crippling the Saraki’s financial muscle in an election he later lost woefully.

Did he lost because of these? No one can say. However it has been like the proverbial frying pan to fire since after the election has the war continue between the anti-graft body and the Saraki dynasty. Not only did they succed in arresting some of his followers who hold sensitive office, some were also remanded in prison till date.

Mayhap because he is still under the governorship immunity, the governor has been single out of invitation or probing but that doesn’t stop the invitation of his wife who was said to have been grilled by the financial watchdog. This speak volumes of what may come after May 29.

What about the governor-general? He has been in an exchange of word with EFCC over the past few days.

Saraki had claimed he was being witch-hunted by trying to use the EFCC to check the various institutions where he had served or presently serving.

Saraki claimed, “the commission’s letter to the Kwara State Government House, which sought an inquest into Saraki’s earnings as the state governor, from 2003 to 2011 was dated Friday, April 26, 2019, predating his (Saraki) announcement as IHRC ambassador at large which came on Sunday, April 28, 2019 with two clear days.”

But Saraki in the statement pointed out that the “IHRC letter informing the Senate President of his appointment was dated March 16, 2019, that is about 40 days before the EFCC wrote its letter conveying the investigations to the Kwara State Government House.”

“In fact, the media team of the Senate president held on to the announcement of the appointment for several weeks so that we could do due diligence on it.”

“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 judgment 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 explained.

Saraki insisted that the new investigation into his activities as governor of Kwara State was a repeat performance, adding that the EFCC was fishing for evidence that they did not get in the past investigations, which spanned almost nine years.

However, in a related development, the EFCC responded by insisting that Saraki is not above the law and in extension, investigation.

“While it is his prerogative to ventilate his views on the matter as he deems fit, the Commission takes great exception at the desperate attempt to cast a slur on its investigative activities by portraying Saraki as a victim of persecution.”

“Furthermore, the Agency finds the attempt by the Senate President to tie our inquest to his International Human Rights Commission, IHRC appointment and his approaching life out of power as misleading, knowing too well that the background to our current inquiries reaches several years back.”

“For the avoidance of doubt, the EFCC is obligated by law to enthrone probity and accountability in the governance space and has supremely pursued this duty without ill-will or malice against anyone.”

“It is in the interest of the public, and for Saraki’s personal good, that he is not only above board, but be seen at all times to be so.”

“Indeed, all the instances in which the EFCC have had cause to sleuth into his financial activities either as a former governor or President of the Senate were driven by overarching public interest and due process of the law.”

“Against the background of the posse of indicting petitions and other evidence available to the EFCC, even Saraki will agree with the Commission that putting him through a legitimate forensic inquiry is the legitimate route to establish his integrity as a public servant.”

The EFCC eventually advised Saraki not to fret if he has no skeletons in his cupboard, but the question that we should all ask is, who doesn’t have skeletons in his cupboard? Even the commission, are there no “more” to the probe(s)? Well, that doesn’t stop them from uncovering the skeletons, and let the cupboard’s owner face the law… After then, we can all ask the real game behind “the scene”.

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