Bukola Saraki, President of the 8th Senate has told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to stop witch-hunting him.
Mr Saraki stated this while reacting to a recent probe embarked upon by the anti-graft agency wherein his financial earnings during his days as Kwara State governor is being investigated.
After a national newspaper reported that the former governor was being investigated, the EFCC confirmed the report but noted that the probe had no political undertone.
For the top lawmaker, he believes singling him out of other former state governors for repeated probe tantamount to witch-hunt.
He said aside being probed again as a former governor, the commission has also began investigating his activities as Senate President.
The lawmaker also said the EFCC was being economical with the truth when it claimed that its latest probe against him predates his ambassadorial appointment at the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC).
“We will first make clarifications to put a lie to some of the claims made by the EFCC in the statement issued yesterday. The EFCC claimed that “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 announcement as IHRC ambassador at large which came on Sunday, April 28, 2019 with two clear days”. It should be noted that the IHRC letter informing the Senate President of his appointment is dated March 16, 2019, that is about 40 days before the EFCC wrote its letter conveying the investigations to 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,” Yusuph Olaniyonu, Special Adviser to Saraki said in a statement on Wednesday.
“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.
“This new investigation into his activities as Governor of Kwara State is a repeat performance. The EFCC is fishing for evidence that they did not get in the past investigations which has spanned almost nine years. 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. Like wise, 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.
“Not satisfied with the reports submitted by its various teams which worked on the Saraki case in Ilorin and Lagos, the EFCC constituted a fresh team to investigate the Office of the Senate President and despatched another letter late last week to the Clerk of the Senate signed by Mohammed Umar Abba, Director of Operations, in which it requested for the following: “the Certified True Copies of the following: i) All Cash Books, Payment Vouchers, Contract Award Letters, Evidence of Contract Bidding, Agreement and Certificate of Contract Completion from 2015 to date. ii) Certified True Copies of all Financial Retirement made within the same period. iii) Any other information that may assist the Commission in its investigation.
“We observed that this type of letter was only written to the Office of the Senate President and not to both chambers of the National Assembly. Also, it is the first time such a letter is written to the office of the Senate President at the twilight of the tenure of the National Assembly indicating hostile investigation along these lines. None of his predecessors got such ‘exclusive’ treatment in which their office was investigated by state officials seeking to nail them at all cost. What EFCC does not know is that all the issues they are seeking to probe in the office of the Senate President are handled by the National Assembly Management, that is the bureaucracy of the federal legislature. The Senate President has nothing to do with such issues. However, in the eagerness and desperation to nail Dr. Saraki, they ignored even the basic facts upon which the entire investigation rests,” the statement said.
The Senate President also said having introduced several measures aimed at helping the country fight corruption at various public offices he has found himself, there is no way he could be adjudged as one who is corrupt.
“While we do not wish to obstruct the EFCC in the performance of its tasks, we reiterate our position that the Commission should be professional, ethical, transparent and consistent. It cannot be deemed professional when the agency is not consistent in the application of its rules and the laws to all cases and individuals. The recent onslaught against the Senate President by the anti-graft Agency is definitely a case of different laws for different folks,” the statement concluded.