EFCC to Saraki: You are not above the law

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has told the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki that “he is not above the law”.

Acting spokesman of the commission, Mr Tony Orilade said this in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday.

The spokesman was reacting to a statement, “EFCC Stop Witch-Hunting Saraki credited to Saraki’s media aide, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu.

According to Orilade, the EFCC has taken note of the reactions of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki to the Commission’s inquiries regarding his earnings as Kwara State governor.

Recently, the commission began investigation into the Senate President’s activities while he held sway as the governor of Kwara.

“While it is his prerogative to ventilate his views on the matter as he deems fit, the commission takes great exception at the desperate attempt to cast a slur on its investigative activities by portraying Saraki as a victim of persecution.

“Furthermore, the agency finds the attempt by the Senate President to tie our inquest to his International Human Rights Commission (IHRC) appointment and his approaching life out of power as misleading.

“This is knowing too well that the background to our current inquiries reaches several years back.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the EFCC is obligated by law to enthrone probity and accountability in the governance space and has supremely pursued this duty without ill-will or malice against anyone.

“It is in the interest of the public and for Saraki’s personal good, that he is not only above board, but be seen at all times to be so,” he said.

Olaniyonu in a statement described the latest probe of Saraki by the EFCC as a witch hunt: “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”.

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