August 16, 2022

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The Many Battles of Senate President Bukola Saraki

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Saraki

imageMany Nigerians know that the country’s Senate President, Bukola Saraki has been seriously enmeshed in various controversies in his career both as businessman and politician. Some years back, Bukola Saraki was involved in an alleged boardroom manipulations that crippled the once beloved Societé Generale Bank of Nigeria (SGBN) as exclusive details of the charges to be preferred against some of its directors by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under the leadership of the former chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, an assistant inspector-general of police (AIG), at the time of collapse exposed a can of worms in the board management of the bank.
Sources within the anti-corruption agency disclosed that specifically, the chairman, Council of Elders Northern Union, the late Dr. Olusola Saraki father of the then Kwara State governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki and other directors of the crippled bank had been investigated and were arraigned on a 30-count charge before high-power politics and maneuver swept off the then no-nonsense chairman of the anti-graft agency, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and his team at the EFCC who had sworn to ensure that persons who played any role(s) in the alleged looting of the bank were brought to book.
Back then, as July 31, 2008, deadline of a two-month extension granted to the embattled SGBN by the country’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to enable it tidy its merger arrangements, drew near, it was apparent the submerged charge sheet which was key to the roots of the bank’s troubles was very much relevant. The suit, had it proceeded, would have held at the Federal High Court, Lagos, and would have been between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Dr. Olusola Saraki, joined with nine others to wit :- Robert Mbonu, Hafiz Bakare, Toyin Idowu, G. A. Oyenola, Yinka Fagbemi, Kennedy Izuagbe, Dele Iluyomade, Noah Olopoenia and Lana Haastrup as accused persons.
We also gathered that Ribadu intended to prosecute Bukola Saraki but could not because he enjoyed the immunity clause bestowed on serving governors by the constitution of the country. The trial of Bukola’s father and his accomplice would, however, have commenced pending the expiration of the son’s tenure as governor but for the tenacity of Bukola Saraki who as a member of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s kitchen cabinet worked round the clock to ensure that the suit got thwarted and Ribadu disgraced. Bukola was also identified as the man behind the ouster of Ibrahim Larmode.
Documents made available to the media then revealed eight of the 30-count charge were directed at Dr. Olusola Saraki alone, and three solely for the defunct bank’s MD Monu. The charges hinged mainly on transactions without collaterals spanning periods from 1999 to 2003 included that Dr. Olusola Saraki while being director of SGBN plc. between 2002 and 2003 at the Lagos Judicial Division of the Federal High Court and having personal interest in the grant of a loan facility amounting to N210,000,000.00 (two hundred and ten million naira) granted by the Societé Generale Bank Nigeria plc. to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kwara State chapter and failed in his duty to declare the nature of his interest in PDP and the loan to the Board of Directors of Societé Generale Bank Nigeria Plc and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 18(11) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act Cap B3 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Not only this, some years back, The Special Fraud Unit (SFU) also declared Dr. Bukola Saraki wanted in connection with a case of suspected fraudulent conversion of depositor’s funds through questionable waivers of loans and other facilities of about ₦9.76bn granted by the management of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc. to companies he promoted between 2004 and 2009 when he was the governor of Kwara State. Some of the facilities were allegedly used to buy choice properties. The senate president, however, refused to honour police invitation so as to clear himself of the allegation. A duly signed warrant of arrest was obtained against him.
Anybody with useful information regarding his whereabouts was toreport to the nearest police station or contact the Office of the Commissioner of Police, Special Fraud Unit, 13 Milverton Road, Ikoyi, Lagos. A former Senior Special Adviser on Millennium Development Goals to Bukola Saraki, ex-governor of Kwara State, and incumbent Commissioner for Information in the Abdulfathah Ahmed administration was also arraigned on March 19, 2015 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC before a Federal High Court, Ilorin Kwara State, for offences bordering on abuse of office, awarding contracts to his cronies, embezzlement, diversion of public funds, and money laundering. Saraki was also alleged to have abused his office and laundered state funds for his personal benefit by awarding inflated contracts to companies owned by his cronies. In one of the transactions involving the purchase of ambulance buses for hospitals in the state, Saraki duped the people of Kwara State by procuring 13 Hiace buses from a local car dealer and converted them to ambulance in place of factory built ambulance for which a contract of N171, 990,000.00 was awarded to Chemiroy Nigeria Limited.

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