CACOL Writes Buhari, Wants Saraki’s Senate Presidency Bid StoppedUncategorized Wednesday, April 29th, 2015
An anti-corruption group, Citizens Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) has petitioned President-elect Muhammadu Buhari to stop Senator-elect and former Governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki’s bid to become Senate President.
In the lengthy letter, CACOL said allowing Saraki aspire for the position of Nigeria’s number three citizen not only will soil the country’s image but also make nonesense of Buhari’s avowed zero tolerance for corruption.
The group accused the former governor of using legal gymnastics to frustrate efforts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to make him account for the alleged conversion of such public property like Shonga Farms, Kwara Cargo Terminal and Kwara Metro Park into personal use.
CACOL expressed surprised that APC which recently won the general elections on the mantra of change could so easily revert to the old ways.
“Our initial reaction to such unbelievable story was that the APC leadership particularly the President-elect General Muhammadu Buhari is conscious of the historical responsibility it has to cleanse our country. This of course starts by never rewarding with high-profile executive offices corrupt individuals who have brought our nation to international ridicule,” said CACOL.
“We believe that APC as a party should parade its first 11s in the choice of appointments and election into National Assembly leadership. We dare say that the quality and character of APC government appointees and NASS leadership is a litmus test for the Buhari administration. We hope the party does not get it wrong,” submitted the group.
Continued the group, “It is our opinion that Senator Bukola Saraki should not be considered for the leadership of the National Assembly because he has a lot of questions to answer. For instance, some Nigerian families lost their money to the Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria (SGBN) which collapsed under Bukola Saraki.
“Various agencies of government have blamed the collapse on alleged monumental fraud perpetrated by the bank’s authorities. And as Nigerians read these investigations for alleged misdeeds related partly to his two-term tenure as governor of Kwara State by the Nigerian police and Nigeria’s flagship anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are still ongoing.
“For the avoidance of doubt, EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde said in various newspaper reports of March 23, 2015 that Bukola Saraki (was) still being investigated including but not limited to his headship of the SGBN and tenure as Kwara State Governor between 2003 and 2011,” wrote CACOL.
“Bukola Saraki has repeatedly sought to stop these investigations by always rushing to the court to seek injunction against the Nigerian police and other agencies of government from investigating, arresting or prosecuting him. One of such cases is Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/131/12 pending before the Federal High Court in Abuja, after a similar failed attempt before the Lagos judicial division of the same court. It would appear that he merely filed the suit to tie the hands of the police from prosecuting him under the guise of lis pendis, as there has been no appreciable progress since the commencement of the matter almost two years ago.
“Recall that on 20th March, 2015, Senator Saraki, in Suit No. KWS/74/2015, obtained vide a Motion Ex-parte before the Kwara State High Court, Ilorin an order of injunction to restrain atleast 14 frontline media houses from publishing anything against him. Of course, a certain judge of the court granted his prayers even without any justifiable urgency, and further hearing in the Motion on Notice and the substantive suit has been stalled as the judge is said to be on Election Petition Tribunal assignment. This is tantamount to abridging the right of the media to inform and educate the public. Is this what APC stands for?” quizzed CACOL.
According to the group, “In the said case pending before the Federal High Court in Abuja since April 2012, the police filed a counter-affidavit, which revealed tongue-wagging details of humongous frauds against Kwara people and the Nigerian state. We refer the APC leadership to the affidavit dated April 23rd 2012 filed by the Nigerian Police. This affidavit detailed not just involvement in a N21 billion Intercontinental Bank loan scam but also how Kwara State assets were used to guarantee loans for private companies.
“That same affidavit detailed how personal aides allegedly made unlawful withdrawals from accounts belonging to a company owned by the deceased aide.
“We also bring to the attention of the APC leadership to a “charged for forgery and fraud in relation to SGBN” affairs, according to the police affidavit. This issue remains pending”, penned the group.
CACOL urged the APC leadership to ask “EFCC the number of petitions bordering on alleged fraud and mismanagement of Kwara State,” stressing, “we bring a few to your notice:
“On January 2nd, 2013, a petition on the opaqueness surrounding ownership of the much-vaunted Shonga Farm was forwarded to the presidency. Documents and facts were supplied to implore the central government to save Kwara from the frauds called Shonga Farm. With hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money and thousands of hectares of lands seized from the affected community in the guise of setting up a commercial farm in partnership with so-called Zimbabwean farmers, Kwara government has now told the people of the state that Shonga Farm is now owned by ‘private concerns.’
“You are probably aware that in 2013, the CBN said Kwara was unbankable arising from the huge debts taking partly to fund this same Shonga Farm. And up till date, Kwara state allocation is still being deducted from source on account of Irrevocable Standing Payment Order.
“That same petition detailed the dubious ownership structure of Kwara Cargo Terminal and Kwara Metro Park all of which white elephant projects were set up with Kwara funds but are now being called private businesses. Also, the International Aviation College and the Kwara Diagnostic Centre which like the two above were funded from N17bn bond taken in Kwara’s name are now said to be owned by private concerns.
“All of these clearly raise serious integrity questions. On May 22, 2013, a group called Kwara Action Against Corruption forwarded to the EFCC a petition detailing how over N1bn Kwara State fund (including loan obtained in Kwara name) and 30,000sqm of community land to the Kwara Mall (Shoprite) project without the state having shares legally linkable to it. Indeed, going by the record at the Corporate Affairs Commission, a copy of which was made available to the EFCC.
‘Nobody on the board of the company can be said to represent the interest of Kwara State. The 30% shares purportedly allocated to Kwara State Government was credited to Harmony Holdings, a company fully owned by private individuals.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the record at the CAC showed that nobody listed as owners of the Harmony Holdings act on record as agent of the government, yet Kwara State continues to spend public funds on these investments that are said to be private concerns!”
The group conceded that Senator Saraki may not have been convicted of any of the alleged offences and therefore be deemed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law, but added that “the exalted office of Senate President, the No. 3 position in the country, should only be occupied by a person whose integrity is beyond reproach and one who doesn’t have such serious allegations pending against him.”
The group urged APC “Therefore, until Senator Saraki clears himself of those charges, we believe that he or anyone else with allegations of such magnitude against them should not be considered for that high office. The President-elect, being a man of the highest integrity and upon whom the eyes of the whole world is set should have a strong interest in this matter lest his anti-corruption efforts be ridiculed.”
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