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.”
We’ll Treat Anyone Associated With IPOB As A Terrorist – Abia CP
The Abia State Police Command has warned the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) against any activity capable of truncating the peace and safety of the residents.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Ene Okon, gave the warning in an interview on Channels Television.
He said that anyone or group of persons associated with IPOB will be termed as a terrorist and dealt with severely.
“The Nigeria Police Force In Abia will treat any person associated with IPOB as a terrorist and such a person or group of persons will be dealt with according to the law”.
The commissioner’s comment comes in reaction to the sit-at-home-order issued by the proscribed movement, scheduled to come into effect on May 30, 2019.
He noted that security personnel have been put in strategic places, thereby assuring residents to go about their activities without fear.
“I am assuring the good people of Abia to disregard the illegal order and go about their normal businesses as there is every assurance of protection of lives and properties”, he added.
EFCC arrests Kwara Assembly clerk over alleged N400m severance pay
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is currently investigating alleged illegal payment of about N400 million to some members of the Kwara state House of Assembly, it was gathered.
Accordingly, the anti-graft body is quizzing Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Sola Gold and the Clerk of the state House of Assembly, Kperogi Halimat Jummai over the alleged payment.
EFCC source maintained that the payment did not follow due process.
It was gathered that all the 24 lawmakers were two weeks ago paid the sum of N400 million severance package, when their tenure is yet to expire.
The petitioner said even though the lawmakers and members of the state executive council are entitled to severance package, it is the next administration that is supposed to pay the money, a source at the EFCC has said.
“More worrisome is the issue of furniture allowance running to hundreds of millions of naira according to the petitioner which they wanted it pay along with severance package,” the petitioner added.
Speaker of the Assembly Dr Ali Ahmed had in a letter with Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, confirmed that the lawmakers are entitled to severance package at the end of their tenure on June 7th this year.
The letter reads that “in accordance with the provisions of the revenue mobilization, allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) honourable members are entitled to 200 percent of their annual basic salaries as their severance gratuity allowance at the end of their tenure of office.”
The clerk of the house, Halimat Jummai Kperogi confirmed that the lawmakers had received their severance package.
She was said to have told the operatives of the EFCC that Governor Ahmed approved the payment of the package.
Kperogi said “in a meeting of the principal officers of the Kwara House of Assembly wherein I was scheduled to be the secretary, held on May 8th, 2019, issue of severance gratuity to the honourable members was raised, the principal officers were informed that the state government has approved the payment of the severance gratuity.”
“At the meeting, I informed the house that the governor had approved the payment. I added that members were expected to be paid after the expiration of their tenure of office. The house debated it and they overruled me.”
Alhaji Gold on the other hand wrote and sought for the approval of the severance gratuity and furniture allowances amounting to about N300 million for some members of the state executive council.
Gold, in a letter to the governor dated May 8th, 2019 said “your Excellency, by virtue of the provisions of Kwara state remuneration of political and public office holders laws, certain category of political and public office holders are entitled to severance and furniture allowances of their basic salaries respectively upon
successful completion of tenure.”
Alhaji Gold said that while the lawmakers had received their monies, members of the state executive council are yet to receive their gratuity.
FG approves N25bn earned academic allowances for ASUU members
….Minister: We spent N1.338tn on education in four years
The Federal Government on Tuesday said it has approved additional N25 billion payment for Earned Academic Allowances for members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
It was learnt that the money is a part payment contained in the Memorandum of Action the Union signed with the government.
The government said the N25 billion was aside the N20 billion that was released last year to public universities in the country.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu broke the news at his valedictory press conference as a minister on Tuesday in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Adamu was joined by Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwukah and Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed at the briefing.
The minister said all universities in the country have benefitted from the N20 billion released last year by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government.
He said the Buhari administration inherited an unimplementable agreement of N1.3 trillion when it assumed office in 2015.
Adamu said: “Let me inform you that the federal government has just approved an additional N25 billion to be shared to beneficiary institutions directly. Last year, the federal government released N20 billion directly to universities. As I speak, all universities have got their share of the N20 billion.
“The sad news is that the N200 billion that was released to the Central Bank of Nigeria since 2013 for the universities has not been fully accessed. In specific terms, all the 73 public varsities have accessed the 1st tranche of 50 percent of the N200 billion.
“For the second tranche of 40 percent, only 56 institutions have been able to access their funds. The last 10 percent representing the third tranche of the N200 billion has not been accessed at all.
Adamu, in his Education for Change: Our stewardship in the last four years, address, said the government invested N1.338 trillion on the sector in the last four years.
Adamu said: “In spite of the economic downturn, we have done well in terms of investment in capital expenditure. The UBEC interventions in states have recorded a total of N350 billion, while TETFund and NEED Assessment interventions have recorded N857 billion with the main ministry and other agencies recording N86 billion, totalling N1.338 trillion in the last four years.
“This is aside from the N25 billion just approved for public universities. These figures have nothing to do with personnel and overhead cost in the education sector, which are also well over a trillion naira.
“Private sector investment in the education sector from the basic, secondary and tertiary levels far outweigh government investment. Our aggregate expenditure in the education sector (public and private) therefore exceeds the much touted 20 percent of our national budget. We are poised to do more.
He said the administration has laid a good foundation for dealing with the challenges posed by the out-of-school children phenomenon and the huge number of adult illiterates.
“If we continue on this path, in the next ten years, Nigeria’s challenges in this twin direction I’ll be confined to the dust in of history.
“On basic, secondary and tertiary education, we shall continue on the path of infrastructural and manpower development, increasing carrying capacity and creating unfettered access to all levels of our education for our young people.,” the minister added.
ASUU president. Biodun Ogunyemi, said the N25 billion was supposed to be released by government to its members in March this year as part of the MoA it signed with the union.
He said he could not confirm if members of the union had received the funds or not.
The. ASUU president said the N20 billion that has been fully accessed by its members was for revitalisation of universities in the country.
“I can’t confirm if the money has been released to our members. We still have issues with the money.
“The N25 billion is part of the Earned Academic Allowances for our members. It is a part payment. We have been chasing that money to be released to us. The money was supposed to be released in March 28 this year but the government released only N20 billion leaving a balance of N5 billion.
“The balance is supposed to be mainstreamed into 2019 budget,” he added.