Nigerian history on corruption wouldn't be written without Senator Bukola Saraki's name occupying a dominant space. Senator Saraki has been known for his legislative banditry, political corruption, virtual criminality and brazen scandals in sordid form, all his life.
You may give it to him, on the flip side; after all, those who wanted nothing to be said about them have no business in politics. Whichever standpoint you viewed it, a scandal is a scandal. It's the loss of or damage to reputation caused by actual or apparent violation of morality or propriety. Does that excuse Senator Saraki's moral bankruptcy as a pervert who exploits the weakness of institutions unto the bargains at every stage of his career.
In an attempt to do damage control, one of his media aides, a few days ago compounded Senator Saraki's already battered image in the eye of the public. “I read a write up titled “BEFORE SARAKI FORGETS” insinuating that Saraki as Vice Chairman to Senator Ahmed Makarfi on the Senate’s Finance Committee in 7th Senate connived with Mrs. Diezani and absolved her of all the alleged missing $20 billion. “At first, I was going to ignore this false and malicious publication mainly because it is coming from a TABLOID that lacks credibility and known for ALWAYS attacking Saraki since he emerged Senate President to justify its paymasters".
This is the point: 'the Sarakis admitted that Saraki was a member of the committee led by Ahmed Makarfi and participated actively in the committee work but did not sign the report as being alleged by critics'.
One would have expected the Sarakis to come up with the original copy of the Senate's finance committee reports that shows empty column against Saraki's name as he refused to sign, being the vice chairman of the committee. We're also expecting Senator Saraki's minority report, indicting Diezani and his fellow committee members, if it was true that Senator Saraki was against the Senate's finance committee report that absolved Diezani? Now, how does Saraki wish to exonerate himself from the committee's report that cover up the highest graft in Nigeria history he partly superintended? Where is the evidence that/or the denial that he was not part of the sleaze? This is the self-denial of the real situation.
The other day Saraki told Bewildered World by deceiving himself that he has returned all the money paid into his account by Kwara State government as ex-governor of the state without showing evidence of transactions. But before then, the Kwara State Government had denied paying Saraki salary after he left office in May 2011. The Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Isiaka Gold, in a reaction to claims that Saraki was drawing a salary from the state after he left office, stated that the ex-governor's last salary was N291,474.00 for May 2011.
“From June 2011, former Governor Saraki started receiving his pension which was N578,188.00 as other past governors in the country. Gold stated that after the review of pension of former political office-holders by the State Pension Board, Saraki’s pension increased to N1,239,493.94 monthly from October 2014 to date. He said it was “therefore false and misleading” to state that Saraki was receiving a salary after the expiration of his two-term tenure as a governor of the state'.
The denial from Kwara State Government came when the statement of Saraki’s account details with Access Bank inflows from 2007 up till August 2015 revealed that Saraki collected salary as the governor of Kwara State for about four years after completing his second term in office was making the round. A prosecution witness, Mr. Michael Wetkas, in one of the cases against Saraki on economic fraud visited on the country, in his testimony, read out details of each transaction on Saraki’s statement of account as pointed out to him by the lead prosecuting counsel.
In-between some transactions described as salary, there were also some whose narration read as a pension. Wetkas said, “Exhibit 15 is the statement of Saraki’s salary account with Intercontinental Bank. N254,412.25 was the salary for July 2007.
“In May 2011, salary paid on June 3, 2011, was N291,124. The narration reads: KWSG May, 2011 salary. On July 4, 2011, there was another payment with the narration of KWSG July salary, 572,286.32. On August 29, 2011, there was a payment of N744,002.22. On October 27, 2011, there was a narration of October salary of N1,165,466.12. On December 7, 2011, there was a payment of the same amount of N1,165,466.12. On December 28, 2011 there was payment of the same amount of N1,165,466.12 as December pension".
By the narration in the accounts, in February 2012, Senator Saraki was paid the same amount. The narration says salary. By this account statement, they stopped payment of salary and/or pension to the defendant on August 31, 2015. The second tenure as governor ended on May 29, 2011. He became a Senator in the same 2011 till date.
We're not talking about other pervasive systematic scandals which include the humongous amount of money allegedly laundered by Senator Saraki. On October 26, 2009, there were cash deposits by several individuals with different names in 87 transactions into Senator Saraki's GTB bank account. The 87 transaction took place in one day! This was done to circumvent the money laundering law. The transactions were made in that manner because if it was made once, it would be above the provisions of the law.
The account also had cash lodgements on May 18, 2009. There was cash lodgement by Todimu, who is a banker, of $8,000 at GRA Ilorin branch. That same day, he (Todimu) also lodged another $8,000. On the same day, there was another cash lodgement of $4,000 by Bayo, who is a banker.
The total amount was $180,000. There was a total of $20,000 lodgement by the bankers. On May 19, 2009, there were 18 lodgements of $10,000 each. The last three of $10,000 of May 19, 2009, each were made by Saraki himself. On June 12, 2009, there was a lodgement of $50,000 cash by one Garba Dare. On August 21, 2009, $99,975 was transferred into the account by a bureau de change, Bin Dahuuh. On August 26, 2009, there was $49,969 paid by Carlisle Properties and Investments Limited. On September 7, 2009, there was also $59,964 by the same company, Carlisle Properties Limited. Most of the outflows from the account were basically made to American Express Service Europe Limited. Part of the outflows was made to BDC.
From our investigation, the transfers to the American Express Service Europe Limited’s account were up to $3,400,000. Part of the outflow from the account was also to the pound sterling account. The ASEL received the funds for onward transmission to the beneficiary. The telex, dated August 25, 2008, for transfer to the American Express Bank, New York. The amount of this particular telex is $73,223.28. Of the pound sterling account, the witness stated, “The account has six transactions in all – three deposits and three outflows. There were deposits of over £1,516,000. The fraud is endless.
The inglorious escapade of Senator Bukola's financial criminality that rocked his post-banking career and drowns several families is still very much with us. Mr. Bukola has been severally fingered in the financial scandal that rocked and ultimately grounded the once boisterous Societe Generale Bank, GGB, owned by the Saraki family. Mr. Bukola was reported to have siphoned the bank’s depositors’ money to the sum of N17 billion to pursue his gubernatorial ambition in 2007, in the wake of an unprecedented political battle the family faced in the hand of another former Governor of the state, late Alhaji Mohammed Lawal.
At another occasion, the police repeatedly sought after Mr. Saraki to explain how a debt of N9.7 billion was dramatically written off in a certain account, which was suddenly closed by one Abdul Adamu, who they found out to be an aide of Saraki. This is different to the Special Fraud Unit of the Nigerian Police Force trail on his heist with a revelation that the former governor of Kwara State was wanted over a N21 billion-bank loan fraud at the defunct InterContinental Bank of Nigeria.
Enmeshed in the sordid legacy of fraud and more undisclosed grafts, the only way out for Senator Saraki is to keep banging his way through, even to the nation's presidency, as a man of incredible vaunting ambition. That's the stuff/character Nigerian political leadership is made of.
Any prosecution of Mrs. Diezani without the inclusion of Saraki and Senate's finance committee's members that cleared her of wrong doings will be an anti corruption war by default. Can Saraki be expelled or expels himself from the Senate presidency so that Nigeria can start on a clean slate? That's less likely.
Saraki's jokes on corruption is the Nigerian jokes. If the Senate's finance committee members who allegedly shared from the Diezani's loot are still the ultimate law givers, it means President Buhari's anti corruption crusade have been making successes in abeyance. When you hear next time corruption is fighting back, then you have an example in Senator Bukola Saraki and his fellow economic predators.
Erasmus, Public Affairs Analyst writes from Lagos
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