Posted by GEORGE ETAKIBUEBU | 17 July 2020 | 666 times
BY GEORGE ETAKIBUEBU
Former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki has said that the series of litigations which he faced in the hand of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) were ill-motivated persecution, intimidation and harassment against him by people with vested interests. He disclosed this in a statement via Twitter on Friday.
His comment was in the form of reaction to a court order on Thursday which dismissed a move by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the final forfeiture of two houses in Ilorin, Kwara State, belonging to the former lawmaker.
The court had granted an interim order of forfeiture following an application by the EFCC, however, in his ruling delivered on Thursday, Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court held that the contention of the EFCC that the property was acquired with illegal funds was based on mere suspicions.
Justice Aikawa stated that the evidence placed before the court was to the effect that the property was substantially financed with money paid to Saraki as a former governor, in line with the Kwara State Governor and Deputy Governor Payment of Pension Law.
He (Aikawa), therefore, discharged the interim order for forfeiture it had earlier granted in favour of the EFCC on December 2, 2019, and subsequently dismissed the EFCC’s application for final forfeiture of the property.
He, however, noted that he has forgiven and holds no grudge against any individual for their roles in his trials.
The full statement by the former Senate President.
Today, as always, I thank Almighty Allah as I welcome the judgement of the Federal High Court, Lagos, by the Honorable Justice Rilwan M. Aikawa in which the court dismissed in its totality the application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for forfeiture order on my home in Ilorin, Kwara State. I am particularly happy that the court specifically ruled that there was no evidence that the property was built with any illicit or stolen funds from the Kwara State Government or any other institution or quarter, whatsoever.
The last five years have been very challenging for me and my family. I have endured and defeated one false allegation and malicious litigation after another, in an ill-motivated persecution, intimidation and harassment, through which some vested interests sought to damage my name and label me with charges of corruption but with the grace of Allah, I have always been victorious. I thank God for the outcome of this case which is the fifth victory in cases in which the EFCC was either the main investigating agency or the plaintiff.
It is obvious that the EFCC leadership under its erstwhile acting chair, Mr. Ibrahim Mustapha Magu decided to take the issue of his non-confirmation by the 8th Senate which I led, personally. However, I know that the Senate under my leadership only followed the due and normal procedure during the confirmation process and we never executed any personal agenda against Magu. The records of the Senate during the period are there for the perusal of all Nigerians interested in the truth.
I hope that with the outcome of today’s case, the EFCC learns that a serious issue like the fight against corruption should not be reduced to a forum-shopping means to execute a personal vendetta or prosecute a parochial agenda. Fighting corruption and combating economic crime requires stakeholders to eschew coercion while employing upright diligence, due process, fairness, equity and broad-mindedness in dealing with all cases and persons.
The deployment of a state institution to fight a personal and partisan battle, particularly with the use of the mass and social media as championed by the EFCC was aimed at inflicting damage to my name, reputation and elective public service record through a targeted misinformation and disinformation campaign of calumny, also directed at intimidating the judiciary. It was directed at giving the wrong impression about me. As I record yet another vindication by the competent court of law, God’s willing, my focus will now shift to more serious issues.
It is the grace of Allah and the support of my family that saw me through these past trying years. My family members have withstood with courage, candor, resilience and grace the war of attrition which was also directed at them. I thank all of them. Let me also express appreciation to my supporters across the country, particularly those in Kwara State, my colleagues in the 8th Senate, my friends, associates and lawyers for standing by me all through the period of the travails.
It is important to put it on record that I hold no grudge against any individual for their roles in my trials. My experience in the last five years has only strengthened my faith in Almighty Allah, the Nigerian nation and her judiciary which has always risen above the din to give justice at all times and in all situation. Definitely, I remain unflinching in my belief that we need to build a functional society which creates the right atmosphere for all to aspire to be whatever positive they desire.
At this point, let me strongly express my support for the anti-corruption war and the institutions created to prosecute this war. My antecedents show that I have always sponsored and backed initiatives in this direction. I was part of the team that initiated the enactment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act and Public Procurement Act under the Obasanjo administration. As Governor of Kwara State, my government was the first state to introduce the Price Intelligence Unit and was also the first state to submit our financial process for rating by Fitch, the global rating agency. As a member of the 7th Senate, I sponsored the motion which exposed the monumental fraud in fuel subsidy payments while the 8th Senate under my leadership passed five different bills aimed at strengthening the fight against corruption, particularly the law that created the National Financial Intelligence Agency (NFIA).
With today’s decision of the Court, it is my expectation that the EFCC, which has played significant roles in the various court cases against me from the CCT to Supreme Court and back at the Federal High Court with the consequent media trial and malicious campaigns, will now leave me alone to live my life, and enjoy my unfettered rights to freedom of thought, expression, association, occupation and dignity, as a private citizen and focus on serious issues of national development.
Thank you, all.
Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
13th President of the Senate and Board Chair,
The Africa Politeia Institute, TAPI.
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