President Of The Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Has Dismissed Charges Against Him By Code Of Conduct Bureau As Desperate Attempt To Hunt Him Over His Stand Against Corruption
Whatever goes around, comes around, it is said. For Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, the days ahead will prove to mark a different spot on his political journey as the Code of Conduct Bureau drags him before the Code of Conduct Tribunal with a 13-count charge of false asset declaration, anticipatory asset declaration and money laundering.
Saraki will have to enter the dock and prove his innocence over concealment of properties he acquired during his time in office as governor of Kwara state, and also, as senator of the Federal Republic. He will also seek to save his head, and name, from charges that he moved several millions of dollars out of Nigeria through Guarantee Trust Bank to foreign accounts held in his name in banks in New York, United States of America (USA), while holding office as both governor and senator.
The 13 charges were brought against Saraki under the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act in case number CCT/ABJ/01/15 on 11 September 2015, and signed by Hassan Muslim Sule, a deputy director in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation. The charge bore Sule’s Nigerian Bar Association’s stamp and seal with number 00113284.
“That you, Dr. Olubukola Abubakar Saraki whilst being the executive governor of Kwara state, on or about 16th September, 2003 within the jurisdiction of this honourable tribunal did make a false declaration in the assets declaration form for public officers on assumption of office as governor of Kwara State by making an anticipatory asset declaration in that you claimed to have owned and acquired No 15A and 16B McDonald, Ikoyi, Lagos through your company Carlisle Properties Limited in the year 2000 when the said property was in actual fact sold by the Implementation committee on Federal Government landed properties in year 2006 to your companies Tiny Tee Limited and Vitti Oil Limited for the aggregate sum of N396,150,000.00 and thereby committed an offence under section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act…”, read the first charge.
But Saraki denied the charges and insisted that he had regularly updated the CCB on his acquisitions, in and out of office. He also said “this is another case of desperation to fight Dr. Saraki because of his recent stance on national issues.”
Responding in a 13 paragraph statement released yesterday by his media office, Saraki said: “It should be noted that at the time of writing this statement (10.00am on September 16, 2015), Dr. Saraki has not been served the court process.
However, we recognize that as a public officer, he owes members of the public explanation on the allegations contained in the charge sheet”. Dismissing the charges as “false, incorrect and untrue” the embattled Senate President said he had “consistently declared his assets as required by law at every point before resuming any political office and that of 2015 is not an exception.
It is surprising that the alleged charges is now referring to his asset declaration made in 2003 while in office as Governor of Kwara State to formulate their charges. They therefore ignored the recent declaration for which they last week issued an acknowledgement.” “That we believe that the Code of Conduct Bureau following their processes in which after a declaration is submitted to the bureau they ought to have carried out their verification of the assets and ascertain the claims made and not wait till 12 years later to be pointing out an alleged inconsistencies in a document submitted to it in 2003.
“This is why we are of the opinion that the present effort is a desperate move initiated due to external influence and interference. “It should also be noted that contrary to the procedure indicated in the law setting up the CCB, the bureau never wrote to Dr. Saraki to complain of any inconsistency in his asset declaration forms”.
Though Saraki said that as Kwara State governor he “never operated a foreign account” the charge sheet, at charges 10 stated that he “failed to declare a loan in the sum of N375,000,000. 00 obtained from Guarantee Trust Bank in February 2010 the proceed of which you converted into Great (Britain) Pound Sterling in the sum of 1,516,194.53 GBP and remitted to Fortis Bank SA/ NV as full and final of mortgage redemption for undisclosed property you purchased in London and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act…”
The charge also accused Saraki, as governor, of operating a foreign bank account when he “transferred the sum of $73,223.28 from your Guarantee Trust Bank Plc domiciliary account No 441441953210 to the American Express Services Europe Limited No. 730580 for onward credit to your American Express Bank, New York card account No: 374588216836009 and you therebycommitted an offence…” Charge 12 accused Saraki as also laundering money as governor.
It stated that “…you transferred the aggregate sum of $3, 400, 000.00 from your Guarantee Trust Bank Plc domiciliary account No 441441953210 to American Express Services Europe Limited no: 730580 for onward credit to your American Express Bank, New York card account no: 374588216836009 and you hereby committed and offence…”.
In all, the charge accused Saraki of concealing ownership of properties located in Ikoyi and Maitama areas of Lagos and Abuja respectively, which he allegedly refused to declare in his asset declaration form while he was sworn in as governor in Kwara State and later, as senator. But further denying the charges, Saraki stated that “some of the issues contained in the charge sheet are subjects of earlier decided and on-going court cases. We therefore believe those behind filing of these charges are engaging in forum shopping”.
“It should be noted that we do not know on whose authority these charges are filed when the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act clearly indicate that any prosecution must be authorized by an Attorney General and we know the nation last had an AG in May 2015. This is another clear indication that the CCT is acting under influence from outside its domain and therefore ready to bend the rules to achieve this obnoxious objective.
“We therefore conclude that this is not an anti-corruption driven case and cannot be part of the moves aimed at fighting corruption. It is simply a pure malicious and politically motivated prosecution aimed at undermining the person and office of the Senate President. “That those behind this plot will definitely meet Dr. Saraki in court as this case which is based on outright fabrication and mischief will not and cannot stand the test of justice.
“It should be noted that throughout his career as a public official democratically elected to high public service, Dr Saraki has always held himself, to global standards of transparency and accountability, to a far higher standard of diligence, disclosure, and compliance, than required or even requested by Nigeria’s Code Of Conduct protocols.
Thus, Dr Saraki has always, lawfully and accountably, declared his assets, both directly owned, and in which he may derive any historical and on-going degree of beneficial interest. “In view of the above, Senator Saraki hereby affirms his belief in the justice system and that when the proposed case comes to the tribunal, he will diligently state his case. He is also ready to co-operate with the Tribunal and other lawful government agencies in the bid to genuinely fight corruption and eliminate impunity in our public affairs”.
– Francis Moses