Former president of the Nigerian Senate, Bukola Saraki, has said that his fresh court travails was a cheap attempt by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to witch-hunt and intimidate a perceived enemy.
He stated this in response to the order of a Federal High Court in Lagos, which on Monday held that Saraki should forfeit his two houses in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
The court ruling was sequel to the prayer by the EFCC.
The anti-graft agency had asked the court to order for the forfeiture of the houses to government on the claims that they were built with proceeds of fraud when Saraki was the governor of Kwara State from 2003 and 2011.
The two properties are located at plots No. 10 and No. 11 Abdulkadir Road, GRA, Ilorin.
But in a statement through his special adviser on media and publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki described EFCC’s claim as outrightly false.
“The EFCC’s claim that the Ilorin property was built by any proceed of fraud is outrightly false. The fact is that the Ilorin property was built partly by the Kwara State Government pursuant to the Third Schedule of the Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law 2010 while Dr. Saraki personally funded the remaining cost of the building.
“There are existing letters from the Office of the Head of Service of Kwara State notifying the former Governor (Saraki) of the State Government’s compliance with the State Pension for Governor’s law and the one indicating his intention to bear the cost of the additional expenditure that will arise from building the property to his desired taste dated 25th January 2012 and 8th February 2012 respectively.
“The construction of the building did not commence until the last few weeks of Dr. Saraki’s tenure as Governor and the bulk of his contribution to the funding were made with cheques. Where cash was involved, this was mainly in 2012 and 2013, more than a year after he had left office as Governor.
“It should also be noted that the land on which the house is built is not a government allocated land.
“One can only see that EFCC is playing politics and spreading falsehood in its cheap attempt to witch-hunt and intimidate a perceived enemy,” the statement read in part.
According to Saraki, the EFCC “could not even hide its penchant for abusing the nation’s judicial institution as it engaged in forum shopping when it filed a suit in Lagos on a property situated in Ilorin.”
He added, “We will like to restate our earlier position that Dr. Saraki will contest this matter in court at least to further attest to his belief in the rule of law, the sanctity of the courts and their enduring readiness to do justice in all matters and to all persons.
“Let it be known that the usual claim by the EFCC that its actions were directed against corrupt elements does not apply to Dr. Saraki because he is a man who at every point in his public service has sought to institute transparency and accountability in governance.”
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