Originally published March 18, 2016 in theNation
The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Friday gave details of how Senate President, Bukola Saraki allegedly looted Kwara State while he served as the state’s governor between 2003 and 2011.
The CCB and EFCC, in a joint response to claim by Saraki that his trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) was mere persecution and witch-hunt, gave details of how Saraki allegedly acquired property in Lagos, Abuja and London, using kwara State funds.
The agencies also gave details of how Saraki allegedly syphoned Kwara state funds, using his link with a commercial bank, Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) Plc into his foreign account, and with which he procured property in London. The joint response by the CCT and EFCC is contained in the counter-affidavit filed by the prosecution in the trial of Saraki on charges of false assets declaration.
Saraki had, in a fresh motion filed by his new lawyer, Kanu Agabi (SAN), queried the competence of the charge against him, the jurisdiction of the CCT to try the charge on the ground that he was not accorded fair hearing by the CCB before he was charged before the EFCC over alleged discrepancies in his asset declarations forms.
He queried the timing, arguing that most of the offences were allegedly committed about 15 years ago while he was a governor and that he was not confronted with the discrepancies as required under the Constitution, to enable him explain either agree or deny the discrepancies.
Friday, prosecution lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) argued the prosecution’s counter-affidavit and urged the court to dismiss Saraki’s fresh motion on the ground that it constituted an abuse of court process.
An official of the CCB, Peter Danladi stated in the counter affidavit, that the investigation of the various petitions of corruption, theft, money laundering, among others against Saraki in 2010, was conducted jointly by official of the EFCC, CCB and the DSS.
“The EFCC conducted its investigation on the various petitions and made findings which showed that the defendant/applicant abused his office while he was the governor of Kwara State and was involved in various acts of corruption as the governor of the state.
“The defendant/applicant borrowed huge sums of money running into billions from commercial banks, particularly Guarantee Trust Bank and used the proceeds of the loan to acquire several landed property in Lagos, Abuja and London, while he was the governor of Kwara State.
“As against the defendant using his own legitimate income to defray the loan, he took public funds, running into billions from Kwara State Government and lodged same in several tranches and in cash into his GTB account I GRA (Government Reservation Area), Ilorin, Kwara State.
“The defendant/applicant’s account officer in GTB, confirmed that the defendant/applicant gave him several cash in government house to lodge into the account and in some occasions, the defendant sent his aids from government house to give him the cash for lodgement into his account.
“When the EFCC submitted its report to its legal department and the Federal Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Justice formed the opinion that the offences revealed from the investigation, particlularly as they relate to the property acquired by the defendant/applicant while he was governor of Kwara State and various moneys sent into his various accounts outside Nigeria can be better handled through the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
“The office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) then sends the findings and the evidence gathered during investigation by the EFCC as a complaint to the Code of Conduct Bureau for investigation and that the operatives of the EFCC would collaborate with the officers of the CCB for effective investigation. “Our investigation on the CCB Assets Declaration Forms for public officers filed by the defendant/respondent revealed the following:
“The landed property listed as No: 42 Gerald Road, Ikoyi was visited by Mr. Ikechi Iwuagwu (Deputy Director, CCB), Miss. Geraldine Longsten (DSS) and Adamu Garba (EFCC) sometime in 2006 and discovered that the property was under construction. “Contrary to the declaration by the defendant that he was earning an annual income of N110, 000,000 from No: 42 Gerald Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, there were no tenants in the property as same was an empty land as at the time of the declaration.
“Contrary to the declaration by the defendant that he owned 15A and 15B Mcdonald, Ikoyi, Lagos as at the time of the declaration in 2003 our investigation revealed that the said property were acquaired in 2006 from the implementation committee on Federal Government Landed properties through his companies called Tiny Tee Limited and Vitti Oil Limited wherein he paid the sum of N396, 150,000 to the federal Government of Nigeria.
“The defendant made an anticipatory declaration for the said 15A and 15B, Ikoyi, Lagos. The defendant acquired the property in the name of two companies because he could not buy two Federal government property in his personal name. “The defendant bided for and acquired 17, 17A and 17B Mcdonald, Ikoyi, Lagos from the Implementation Committee on Federal government Landed Property and paid an aggregate sum of N497, 200,000 to the Federal Government between October 2006 and 2007.
“A scrutiny of the defendant’s salary account with the Intercontinental Bank (now Access Bank) of account No: 0100857813 reveals that his monthly take home salary as at the time he acquired the property was not more than N500, 000 and the defendant acquired property far in excess of his income.
“While the Federal Government was selling its property, the Centarl Bank of Nigeria, being an agency of the Federal Government sold plot 2A, Glover Road, Ikoyi, Lagos for N325,000,000 between 2007 and 2008 to the defendant, which the defendant purchased through his company called Carlisle Properties when he was the governor of Kwara State,” Danladi said.
He added that further investigation by the CCB revealed that Saraki also acquired a property at Plot #&A Glover Road, Ikoyi, Lagos through Carlisle Properties Limited while he was governor of Kwara state and that he has been receiving rent form the property.
Danladi said investigation on the asset declaration forms submitted by Saraki between 2003 and 2011 revealed that he failed to declare his interest in Plot 2A Golver Road, Ikoyi, Lagos (in his 2011 asset declaration form); No: 1 Targus Street, Maitama, Abuja otherwise known as 2482 Cadastral Zone A06, which he claimed he acquired in November 1996 from one David Baba Akawu (in his assets declaration form of 2003).
Saraki was also said to have failed to declare his ownership of No: 3 Targus Street, Maitama, Abuja otherwise known as 2481 Cadastral Zone A06, Abuja which he acquired from one Alhaji Attahiru Adamu in his asset declaration form (of June 3, 2011.) and No: 42 Remi Fani-Kayode Street, Ikeja Lagos, which he acquired through his company, Skyview Properties Limited from First Finance Trust Limited on December 12, 1996.
“The defendant has a domiciliary account with GTB Plc in Nigeria with account No: 441441953210 from where he made various cash transfers totalling 3.4million US dollar between 2009 and 2012 to American Express Service Europe Limited with account No: 730580 maintained with the American Express bank, New York and the various sums were transferred into the defendant’s card account No: 374588216836009 maintained by the defendant outside Nigeria.
“Sometime in February 2010 the defendant obtained a loan of N375, 000,000 from GTB Plc in Nigeria, which he converted into 1,516,194.53 pounds sterling and gave instructions to the bank to transfer the entire sum to the united Kingdom in favour of Forts Bank SA/NV the purpose of which the defendant stated to be the full and final payment of mortgage redemption for the property he purchased in London,” Danladi said.
Arguing Saraki’s motion earlier, Agabi was of the view that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain the charges, on among other grounds, that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice lacked the powers to file charges before the tribunal.
He also argued that the failure of the Code of Conduct Bureau to invite Saraki to confront him with the breaches in his assets declaration form was fatal to the validity of the charges.
Responding, Jacobs argued that Agabi’s argument was embarrassing and self-serving. Jacobs, who once served as aide to Agabi while he was the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) wondered why his former principal will now argue against the power to initiate proceedings before the CCT.
“On their argument that the AGF cannot initiate proceedings before this tribunal, we are saying that issue, which is their NO: 2 is embarrassing. They had earlier argued, up to the Supreme Court, that it is only the AGF that can initiate cases here. They dragged that case before the Supreme Court and lost. Then they have come back here to now argue the opposite, that the AGF cannot initiate a case before the CCT.
“Fortunately for me, I served with the lead defence lawyer (Agabi) as a Special Assistant (SA) when he was the AGF. He signed several charges, which I prosecuted before this tribunal on his behalf. Some these case included that involving former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT, Jeremiah Useni, former Plateau State governor, Joshua Dariye, among others.
“He did not only sign those charges, I represented him. Having benefited and utilised those law, can he now come back to condemn the law? That is embarrassing. And it should not be accepted. The same AGF, who worked with that provision of the Constitution, cannot now argue that the EFCC cannot liaise with the CCB in investigating cases,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs argued that the fresh motion by Saraki was an abuse of court process because he had raised similar issues and sought the same reliefs in about four other motions he filed before different courts in the country.
He cited the cases marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/775/15, FHC/ABJ/CS/905/15 and FHC/ABJ/CS/1507/15 already filed by Saraki in attempt to frustrate his trial before the CCT. CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar has adjourned to March 24 for ruling and possible commencement of trial.