Bukola Saraki, former Senate President, has advised the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to leave him alone.
Mr Saraki stated this in reaction to the court victory he secured against the anti-graft agency, yesterday.
The former senator during the composition of the 8th Senate clinched the position of the Senate President against the wish of his then party, All Progressive Congress (APC) which preferred his successor for the position at the time.
Since his emergence, several plots by the executive, headed by President Muhammadu Buhari, to illegally oust him from the position failed due to the support of most of his colleagues he enjoyed despite their political affiliations.
When he stepped down after failing to realise his re-election bid during the 2019 general election, the EFCC moved against him confiscating most of his landed properties. Delivering judgement yesterday, a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos State, ordered the return of the seized assets.
Celebrating his victory in a statement yesterday, Saraki, also former governor of Kwara State, said it was the fifth time he would be defeating the anti-graft agency since his travails began. He also accused the now suspended acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, of persecuting him because the 8th Senate which he led refused confirming him the substantive head of the commission.
“I am particularly happy that the court specifically ruled that there was no evidence that the property was built with any illicit or stolen funds from the Kwara State Government or any other institution or quarter, whatsoever,” the former top lawmaker said.
“The last five years have been very challenging for me and my family. I have endured and defeated one false allegation and malicious litigation after another, in an ill-motivated persecution, intimidation and harassment, through which some vested interests sought to damage my name and label me with charges of corruption but with the grace of Allah, I have always been victorious. I thank God for the outcome of this case which is the fifth victory in cases in which the EFCC was either the main investigating agency or the plaintiff.
“It is obvious that the EFCC leadership under its erstwhile acting chair, Mr. Ibrahim Mustapha Magu decided to take the issue of his non-confirmation by the 8th Senate which I led, personally. However, I know that the Senate under my leadership only followed the due and normal procedure during the confirmation process and we never executed any personal agenda against Magu. The records of the Senate during the period is there for the perusal of all Nigerians interested in the truth.
“I hope that with the outcome of today’s case, the EFCC learns that a serious issue like the fight against corruption should not be reduced to a forum-shopping means to execute a personal vendetta or prosecute a parochial agenda. Fighting corruption and combating economic crime requires stakeholders to eschew coercion while employing upright diligence, due process, fairness, equity and broad mindedness in dealing with all cases and persons.
“The deployment of a state institution to fight a personal and partisan battle, particularly with the use of the mass and social media as championed by the EFCC was aimed at inflicting damage to my name, reputation and elective public service record through a targeted misinformation and disinformation campaign of calumny, also directed at intimidating the judiciary. It was directed at giving the wrong impression about me. As I record yet another vindication by the competent court of law, God’s willing, my focus will now shift to more serious issues.
“It is the grace of Allah and the support of my family that saw me through these past trying years. My family members have withstood with courage, candor, resilience and grace the war of attrition which was also directed at them. I thank all of them. Let me also express appreciation to my supporters across the country, particularly those in Kwara State, my colleagues in the 8th Senate, my friends, associates and lawyers for standing by me all through the period of the travails.
“It is important to put it on record that I hold no grudge against any individual for their roles in my trials. My experience in the last five years has only strengthened my faith in Almighty Allah, the Nigerian nation and her judiciary which has always risen above the din to give justice at all times and in all situation. Definitely, I remain unflinching in my belief that we need to build a functional society which creates the right atmosphere for all to aspire to be whatever positive they desire.
“At this point, let me strongly express my support for the anti-corruption war and the institutions created to prosecute this war. My antecedents show that I have always sponsored and backed initiatives in this direction. I was part of the team that initiated the enactment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act and Public Procurement Act under the Obasanjo administration. As Governor of Kwara State, my government was the first state to introduce the Price Intelligence Unit and was also the first state to submit our financial process for rating by Fitch, the global rating agency. As a member of the 7th Senate, I sponsored the motion which exposed the monumental fraud in fuel subsidy payments while the 8th Senate under my leadership passed five different bills aimed at strengthening the fight against corruption, particularly the law that created the National Financial Intelligence Agency (NFIA).
“With today’s decision of the Court, it is my expectation that the EFCC, which has played significant roles in the various court cases against me from the CCT to Supreme Court and back at the Federal High Court with the consequent media trial and malicious campaigns, will now leave me alone to live my life, and enjoy my unfettered rights to freedom of thought, expression, association, occupation and dignity, as a private citizen and focus on serious issues of national development,” he added.