Former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki has denied that he is engaged in a media war with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
“Rather, Dr. Saraki has been the one at the receiving end of the media onslaught sponsored from the office of the EFCC. Various documents and court processes from the agency have been given to a particular newspaper for publication.
“In fact, while the EFCC distributed copies of its letter to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court immediately it was submitted, we are still surprised how Dr. Saraki’s response written early May found its way into a newspaper last Sunday. It should be known that if we were interested in leaking the letter, we would not wait for seven weeks to do that. Dr. Saraki believes he is on firm ground on the points of law and has nothing to be afraid of. He is innocent of the charges,” Saraki’s media aide, Yusuf Olaniyonu said.
Recall that the commission, in a statement on Sunday, suggested that Saraki was behind a report in a national newspaper which talked about a letter Saraki wrote to the Chief Justice of the Federal High Court asking him to ignore the EFCC’s request that a case involving him be transferred to another judge.
The commission’s spokesman, Tony Orilade, said in a statement that no amount of media campaign against EFCC’s acting chairman would stop Saraki blackmail prosecution.
The commission referred to the report published in the Punch Newspaper of Sunday, June 30, 2019 titled, “Magu begged me to help his confirmation by the Senate, Saraki tells CJ Kafarati”, as the handiwork of Saraki.
It said Saraki “deviously chose to divert attention from the weighty allegations of financial fraud trailing his eight years stewardship in Kwara State and leadership of the Senate”.
It further accused the former National Assembly helmsman of coming up with “mendacious reasons on why the Chief Judge of Federal High Court should ignore the request of the EFCC, seeking the transfer of its cases from Justice Taiwo Taiwo who curiously granted ex-parte order to restrain the Commission from performing its statutory duties.”
EFCC adds: “Incidentally, the EFCC has filed a detailed response against the judge’s restraining order and took up issues over the controversial interim order.
But Saraki reiterated he is not interested in obstructing any investigation by the EFCC or any security agency.
His aides statement adds: “While the EFCC claims that it is investigating the Office of the Senate President between 2015 and 2019, we make bold to say that it is just on a wild goose chase. That Office has nothing to do with contract awards and handling of the finances of the National Assembly. These are functions of the bureaucracy of the National Assembly, otherwise known as the National Assembly Management.
“On its persistent probe of the tenure of Dr. Saraki as Governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011, we maintain that all the issues the EFCC are presently raising were the same issues that are contained in four of the charges filed before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) and taken before the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The CCT case went beyond the subject matter of asset declaration. They raised issues about the assets, how and when they were acquired, the sources of their funding and the banking transactions of Dr. Saraki. That is why we maintain that since the issues have been determined by the courts up to the Supreme Court, the EFCC is just on a persecution and smear campaigns with its current investigations.
“At the time the CCT charges were filed, it was generally believed some of the charges should not have been lumped up with the asset declaration issues. However, in their desperation to nail Dr. Saraki, some of the charges that contained insinuations that Kwara State funds were paid into accounts owned by him and companies in which he has interests were filed. And twice, the charges went before the highest court in the land and he was discharged and acquitted.
“It is also the reason that Dr. Saraki believes that the current investigation constitutes an infringement on his fundamental human rights. And in the exercise of his belief in the judiciary, he filed a case seeking the court’s intervention for the protection and enforcement of the rights.
However, EFCC stated that the ongoing investigation against Saraki and other Politically-exposed Persons (PeP) are on course while Saraki and his co travellers will surely have their day in court shortly.
It advised the former Senate head to carry his cross and allow the judiciary to performs its constitutional role.
It stated that it was preposterous for Saraki to be raising issues on what transpired during the confirmation of EFCC boss in 2016 when he is no longer in charge of the Senate in 2019.
“It is too late for him in the day, to be claiming innocence over the confirmation saga when every Nigerian knew what transpired under his watch.
“The Commission under Magu, has moved on and will not be distracted over mundane issue.
“Let it be stated in unequivocal terms that the investigation of Saraki’s stewardship, whether as a former Senate President or as a former governor of Kwara State, has absolutely nothing to do with the non-confirmation of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the substantive Chairman of the EFCC.
“While the EFCC will not allow itself to be drawn by Saraki to take up issues with him on the pages of newspapers, it is pertinent to once again state in clear terms that the probes being carried out by the EFCC are nothing personal, but all about enthroning probity in governance, and letting leaders know that even out of office, they will be held accountable for their stewardship.
“Again, it is worth reminding Saraki that he has no need to be scared of the EFCC and its leadership as long as he believes he has a clear conscience.
“He should therefore, rather than running from pillar to post, allow the law to take its course,” the EFCC added.