Five choice properties of Senate President Bukola Saraki located in high brow Ikoyi, Lagos have been sealed off by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), citing ongoing investigation of the politician.
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 N17billion 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.
Responding to a question, 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.”
Sections 27(1-4), 28 and 29 of the EFCC Establishment Act 2004 read in part:
“27 (1) Where a person is arrested for committing an offence under this Act, such person shall make a full disclosure of all his assets and properties by completing the Declaration of Assets Form as specified in Form A of the Schedule to this Act.
“(2) The completed Declaration of Assets Form shall be investigated by the Commission.
“(3) Any person who – (a) knowingly fails to make full disclosure of his assets and liabilities; or (b) knowingly makes a declaration that is false; or (c) fails, neglects or refuses to make a declaration or furnishes any information required, in the Declaration ‘of Assets Form, commits an offence under this Act and is liable Oil conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
“(4) Subject to the provisions of section 24 of this Act, whenever the assets and properties of any person arrested under this Act are attached, the Commission shall apply to the Court for an interim forfeiture order under the provisions of this Act.
“(5) The Chairman of the Commission shall have powers to make such changes or modifications to the Declaration of Assets Form specified in Form A of the Schedule to this Act as may become necessary in order to give effect to the provisions of this Act.
“28. Where a person is arrested for an offence under this Act, the Commission shall immediately trace and attach all the assets and properties of the person acquired as a result of such economic or financial crime and shall thereafter cause to be obtained an interim attachment order from the Court.
“29. Where- (a) the assets or properties of any person arrested for an offence under this Act has been seized ; or (b) any assets or property has been seized by the Commission under this Act, the Commission shall cause an ex-parte application to be made to the Court for an interim order forfeiting the property concerned to the Federal Government and the Court shall, if satisfied that there is prima facie evidence that the property concerned is liable to forfeiture, make an interim order forfeiting the property to the Federal Government.”
Also being investigated by EFCC in respect of the N17billion 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, Mr. 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.”
NUC, NYSC to block ‘fake’ foreign-trained graduates from service
The National Universities Commission (NUC), in collaboration with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), on Tuesday said it had put measures in place to block fake foreign-trained graduates from partaking in the compulsory one-year national service.
The NUC said it would continue to ensure the credibility of certificates issued by Nigerian universities and block fake foreign-trained graduates coming into the country.
Its Executive Secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, spoke when the NYSC Director General, Brig.-Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim, visited him at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
A statement in Abuja by the NYSC Director of Press and Public Relations, Adenike Adeyemi, regretted the challenges in vetting the certificates obtained from universities established by Nigerians outside the country.
The NUC chief said many universities produce quality graduates while some produce graduates who cannot defend their certificates.
He said the commission had not approved the degrees of some online universities operating in the country.
Rasheed added that the commission had approached the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to shut down some illegal universities operating in Nigeria.
“NUC and NYSC must work together to help the country in producing quality graduates. The NUC will continue to certify the credibility of certificates obtained from Nigerian universities,” he said.
The NYSC DG said the scheme will not issue Certificate of National Service to unqualified graduates.
Eid-el-kabir: FG declares Monday, Tuesday public holidays
The Federal Government has declared Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th August as Public Holidays to mark the 2019 Eid-Al-Kabir celebrations.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Barr. Georgina Ehuriah, who made the declaration on behalf of the Federal Government, congratulated the Muslim faithful on the occasion .
She called on all Nigerians, at home and in diaspora, to use the period of this year’s Eid-Al-Kabir celebration to embrace the virtues of love, humility, peace and sacrifice as exemplified by the Holy Prophet Mohammed.
She urged Nigerians to shun any form of disruptive tendencies and join hands with the Federal Government to build a peaceful, strong and united Nigeria so as to achieve an enviable Next Level of growth and development.
According to a statement by Director (Press & Public Relations), Mohammed Manga, the Permanent Secretary reaffirmed the determination of the President Muhammadu Buhari led-administration to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians, adding that Security Agencies under the Ministry have been directed to ensure the provision of adequate security, before, during and after the Eid-Al-Kabir celebrations.
She restated government’s desire for all Nigerians to live a life of sacrifice, charity and love for one another.
Bar. Ehuriah wished Nigerians a happy, peaceful and fulfilling Eid-Al-Kabir celebrations.
N9.9b fraud: Court freezes Lagos accounts
THE Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday ordered the freezing of three accounts belonging to the Lagos State Government over an alleged N9.9 billion fraud.
Justice Chuka Obiozor made the order following an ex-parte application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He ordered the accounts’ “suspension” pending conclusion of investigation and possible prosecution of the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Adewale Adesanya.
The accounts are domiciled in First City Monument Bank (numbered 5617984012), Access Bank (0060949275) and Zenith Bank (1011691254).
In a supporting affidavit, an EFCC investigator, Kungmi Daniel, said the commission discovered huge inflow of N9,927,714,443.29 from the state accounts into the FCMB account.
He said the account, operated by Adesanya, was opened last September 17 during the Akinwunmi Ambode administration.
According to the deponent, investigators found that Adesanya and other signatories made fraudulent transfers from the state’s accounts and dissipated the funds.
“The trend is that the account always witnessed huge inflow from Lagos State Government in the above scheduled accounts managed by the respondent (Adesanya).
“There have been concerted efforts and attempts to dissipate the contents of the accounts listed in the schedule to this application.
“Without freezing the nominated accounts and temporarily forfeiting the money to the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, there is no way the fraud being perpetrated using the scheduled accounts can be stopped,” the EFCC said.
EFCC counsel Mohammed Abbas urged the court to grant the order temporarily attaching the accounts to enable it to conclude its investigations.
Justice Obiozor granted the prayers and adjourned till Friday.
Some legal sources wondered last night why the victim, the state government, is being made to suffer while those suspected to be involved in the matter are left untouched.