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THE 'SAINTS' IN APC III

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– By Elias Osaghae (26-05- 2014 )
A Nigerian songwriter wrote “Abracadabra” in the 90's - a song, he lamented the corrupt leadership who put round pegs in square holes and gave names to the system. In other lyrics of that title, he fumed over the mismanagement of our natural resources when he sang …...”de oil we take from our land don turn to a hot sweat, running down on our faces, air-kondition no fit cool us; wetin happen to our moni, wetin happen to the naira, e no fit but us garri, e no fit buy us plantain” then the chorus: Abracadabra, oh oh, oh, de more we lo-oo-ok de less we see-e-e, where we de go” After over twenty years that “Abracadabra” was sung, the corrupt situations in Nigeria today keep reminiscing that lyrics. It is as if the song was made yesterday. A close browsing into the present corrupt practices would reveal that they are getting
worse than when “Abracadabra” was released.
Some of us who have witnessed the trend from 1970, are hopeless about finding solutions to this anti-developmental scourge that has unfortunately become a paradigm, even for generation yet unborn. As inferred in my previous article, corruption has metamorphosed into a “science” in Nigeria where almost everyone aspires to a position through the doors of corruption; applicants indulge in corruption to get a job; employees employ it to get promotion; criminals tap into corruption to get justice; politicians apply it to get votes and corruption has become the litmus test “for all successes” The latest “scientific developments” of corruption are (a) the corrupt are becoming whistle-blowers so as to divert attentions to other corrupt people or systems. (b) The corrupt now run to the judiciary to seek court injunction to stop investigations into his corruption allegations and (c) And yet more offensive, it has become “political science” for past corrupt politicians to use “eradication of corruption” as baits to catch votes. These ultraconservatives in the garb of “progressives” are now drumming to Nigerians their road map to eradicate corruption.

The nuisance value of this drumming is what informs of these write-ups 'The “Saints” In APC. Part I and II of the write-ups have beamed lights on the corrupt practices of Alhaji Abubakar Atiku and Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu respectively. This third part is beaming on Senator, Ex-Governor Bukola Saraki. Hopefully the beaming will continue on other front-line leaders of the Party subsequently.

Senator Bukola Saraki was born on December 19, 1962. He attended the prestigious King's College, Lagos and proceeded to Cheltenham College and then London Hospital Medical College of the University of London where he obtained M.B.B.S (London). Dr. Bukola Saraki worked as a Medical Officer at Rush Green Hospital, Essex from 1988 to 1989. On his return to Nigeria, he was appointed a Director of Societe Generale Bank (Nig) Ltd from 1990 to 2000. There is no record to show that he ever practised medicine in Nigeria. Medical practices are foremost callings to save lives and seldom are those called, abandon them to other lucrative professions, in civilized nations. This brings to mind of Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a CNN's multiple Emmy award winning chief medical correspondent who was  penciled for the office of Surgeon-General of the United States of America by President Barack Obama. True to his calling, this gentleman respectfully declined his nomination because he was convinced that the appointment will hinder his calling. And the next thing, he hopped into a plane to Haiti to save lives caught in the ravaging earth-quake of January, 2010. To abandon this noble calling speaks volume.

On coming into politics, Dr. Bukola Saraki was appointed Special Assistant to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Budget Matters in 2000. Ceremonially, he also served as a tribal nobleman of high rank in his capacity as the Turaki of the Ilorin Emirate. Dr. Bukola Saraki contested and won the gubernatorial election of April 19, 2003 in Kwara State on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He ran in 2007, and won again. In 2011, Alhaji Isiaka Gold won the January PDP primaries for the Kwara Central Senate seat. However, a rerun primary was held after Gold withdrew, and Saraki won the primary with 1,044 votes, ahead of Mallam Yonus Abdulrahman who received 13 votes. In the April elections, Saraki won with 78,799 votes, against Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate Oloriegbe Ibrahim Yahaya, who polled 53,058 votes, and Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) candidate Hajia Rukayat Issa with 32,499 votes.

This medical doctor turned politician of noble birth and educational background, commenced his walk to corruption 'hall of shame' long before he came into politics. Records have it that he was the arrowhead of the Saraki family that ran the Societe Generale Bank (Nig) Ltd. to bankruptcy years ago and till this time of writing, they are yet to answer the charges against them. Even when charges of corruption were brought against Bukola Saraki, his sister, Gbemisola and others in 1990, their late father allegedly used his clout to shield them from the law. While the others appeared in court, none of the Sarakis ever did.

According to Street Journal, the high-handedness that led to the failure of Societe Generale Bank was brought into governance in Kwara State where Governor Bukola Saraki’s father was the sole political kingmaker. Investigations also showed that in Kwara State and even beyond, members of the Saraki
family are seen as being above the law. Street Journal also found out that between the years 1999-2003 which happened to be the most critical period in the life of the SGBN, Bukola Saraki acquired 15 luxurious cars, which included a Ferrari. He and his wife, Toyin, also purchased houses in London worth 10 million pounds (£10,000,000). On 29 November 2001, Bukola Saraki bought a mansion in London for four million, two hundred and fifty thousand pounds (£4,250,000.00). The house with title number, NGL805616, is located on 70 Bourne Street, London SW1 8JW. The lease hold on the property was registered on 9 January 2002 with the land registry, Harrow Office. The house now has a free hold. The three story structure is nothing short of a palatial mansion befitting only a king. The house is not far from Buckingham Palace road. The interior of the house speaks volumes about Governor Saraki’s high taste and love for good things; almost everything in the house, including door knobs, are gold plated. In 2002, the governor also bought Number 53 Ashley Gardens for 4 million pounds (£4,000,000) he was said to use a front company known as "53 Ashley Gardens Limited."

Apart from his U.K properties, Bukola Saraki owns several properties in Nigeria worth several millions of naira including a N700 million house in Victoria Island said to be fetching him N96 million rent annually. Friends and associates of the Governor have posited that he was in the private sector when he bought his London property. He was the Vice Chairman of Societe General Bank at that time. Those who believe that while the bank was experiencing financial problems, he, as an executive of the bank was acquiring a multi-million pound home may therefore not be wrong.

*Among other things, the Governor was alleged to have mismanaged about N65 billion which accrued to the state from the federation account between April 2003 and June 2008. A petition written to the EFCC by the Kwara State chapter of the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) in 2008 reads in part “the total money from Federation Account meant for the 16 Kwara local governments between April 2003 to June 2005 is about N65 billion. While Baruten, Ilorin West, Offa and Oyun local governments were supposed to be given (out of it) a sum of not less than N5 billion, N5.7 billion, N3.4 billion and N3.1 billion respectively. But after our own survey by teams of expert builders, economists, engineers and others, that covered the entire 16 local government council areas, it was been discovered that in each of these local governments, no serious project worth an amount of N1.5 billion took place between this period. This shows that about N40 billion meant for local governments is elsewhere and for the four local governments mentioned above, there are no traces of development that could match up to the colossal amount of the local government revenue,"

* The YCE also alleged that the while serving as a Director in Societe Generale, the Governor’s father, Chief Olusola Saraki influenced the granting of unsecured loans to the tune of N 250 million to the PDP. The YCE further stated that "Dr. Olusola Saraki, the father of the Kwara State governor, and other directors of the crippled bank had been investigated and were due to be arraigned on a 30-count charge before high powered politics swept away former EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu and his team.

* Chief Erastus Akingbola, the embattled former chief executive officer of Intercontinental Bank PLC reveals in a fresh petition to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice how a plot was hatched by Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and ex-Governor Bukola Saraki to take over the bank from its owners. Chief Akingbola revealed that the duo have used the so-called reforms of the banking sector by the CBN, soon after Mallam Sanusi became governor of the CBN on June 4, 2009 to plot a systematic take-over of the 21-year-old bank. The grand plan is being executed by Mahmoud Lai Alabi, former employee of the CBN who once turned around WEMA Bank PLC before selling it to SW8 Investments Limited, a company suspectedly owned by Senator Bukola Saraki. In a document obtained exclusively by Newswatch titled: “Fraudulent takeover of Intercontinental Bank PLC by Dr Bukola Saraki, Mallam Lamido Sanusi & Senator Saraki's lackey, Mahmoud Lai Alabi,” Chief Akingbola revealed that about two and a half years ago, the Dr. Bukola Saraki, who was former managing director of Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria, SGBN, which belonged to the Saraki family; had requested that his distressed bank be merged with Akingbola’s outfit. But the deal failed principally because of SGBN’s debt crisis which forced the CBN to revoke its licence a couple of years earlier. “We conducted a due diligence exercise and noticed N30 billion negative capital, so the board of IB PLC turned it down and Senator Saraki was very unhappy. Saraki never betrayed his emotions but bid his time. He continued to do business with Akingbola and obtained about eight billion Naira loans from IB PLc for his companies. Time to have his pound of flesh soon came when it was time to renew the appointment of Chukwuma Soludo as CBN governor. Saraki was alleged to have prevailed on the late President Umaru Yar’Adua not give the professor of Economics a second term. Instead, he took Sanusi to the late president as the next man for the coveted job. Being my customer, Saraki confirmed this personally to me,” Akingbola wrote.

* In April 2012 the police sent a letter to Saraki asking him to assist in their investigation of a case of "conspiracy, forgery and stealing N21,000,000,000 belonging to Joy Petroleum Ltd." A Federal High Court in Abuja heard a request by Saraki for an injunction preventing the police from arresting him "to protect his dignity and prevent further harassment".  At the hearing the counsel for the police alleged that Saraki had influenced the purchase of stocks by the Ministry of Finance of Kwara State in companies that included Joy Petroleum, of which Saraki was the promoter. His wife was linked to the transaction as was Abdulfatah Ahmed, then Commissioner of Finance and now governor of the state.
According to SaharaReporters reported, the former Kwara State governor, who was desperate to elude police interrogation, tried to dupe a Federal High Court judge into granting a temporary court injunction, filing an exparte motion to prevent the police from grabbing him to answer to charges that he directly benefited from a N21 billion bank loan fraud. The judge declined the request.
Mr. Abubakar said in his affidavit that in a letter 3rd April, 2012 he invited Saraki to Lagos to assist in the investigation of a case of conspiracy, forgery and stealing of the sum of N21 billion belonging to Joy Petroleum Ltd, following a petition from Joy Petroleum on the refusal of access to their account at Intercontinental Bank.
Subsequent investigation revealed, among others, that
• Withdrawals were made from the account during the period the former Managing Director was incapacitated and even after his death, although the deceased was the sole signatory;
• A credit transfer was made from the account on 18th February 2010 when the former Managing Director was already dead.
• The account was closed by Abdul Adamu, Saraki’s aide; and
• A loan sum of N9, 700,000,000.00 (Nine Billion, Seven Hundred Million, Naira) was written off prior to the closure of the account.
The IG points out in the affidavit that Saraki’s immunity as governor ceased on May 29, 2011, when his tenure ended. “As a Senator he is not entitled to immunity as he is being investigated in the theft of N21 billion and waiver of several billions of Naira of Bank loans by Intercontinental Bank Plc when the cronies of the Plaintiff was the Managing Director of the Bank,” Mr. Abubakar averred.  
Citing various legal authorities, Mr. Abubakar argued that he has inherent powers to arrest, investigate and prosecute the Plaintiff upon reasonable suspicion that he has committed a criminal offence pursuant to Section 4 of the Police Act, and submitted that that section 35 of the Constitution is not absolute in that the Inspector-General is empowered to violate the right of any person in Nigeria to personal liberty if there is any reasonable suspicion that he committed an offence.
* PointblankNews.com also revealed in its online publication that the former Nigeria Governors’ Forum chairman, Senator Bukola Saraki allegedly laundered billions of Naira belonging to Inter Continental Bank of Nigeria Plc (now Access Bank). Saraki also allegedly used fronts like Sintex Ltd, Skyview Properties Ltd, Asam Oil, Quality Packing Ltd, Bastone Ltd, Madison Properties Ltd, Airline Catering Services to launder billions of Naira. The monies, which were given out as loans, were later written off as bad debts.
* EFCC investigators looking into Saraki’s fraud also noted that he laundered several billions of Naira that were deducted from local government allocations to Kwara State over eight years.
* It was also discovered that the Kwara State government has been paying N100 million monthly to the former governor as “pension” but investigation into this payment is being frustrated by the First City Merchant bank (FCMB), where the fraud was detected.
The counts of Senator Bukola Saraki's “saintly” laundering of monies corruptly acquired since his advent into public office, can be inconclusive because cover-ups might have buried some deals alive. But what is ironic is that this is a man born with silver spoon, who was given a quality education that an average Nigerian lacked, and yet he opted to use these advantages to deny generations unborn, the infrastructure that would make life bearable for them. Senator  (Dr) Bukola Saraki would have been able to establish a flourishing medical facilities, not only in Kwara but in other metropolitan cities in Nigeria, to take care of medical cases now referred abroad, and still be a cool billionaire with respect and national recognition. But as it is, his training that would have brought blessings to Nigeria, has instead brought stigma to himself and damn to the nation. I bet that colleagues of his international alma mater would be ashamed of him. He is embodiment of why a white man calls an African an animal.
Pertinent question to Nigerians, will you commit your future and that of your unborn generations into the hands of Senator Bukola Saraki? He is still out there joggling to become president of Nigeria or to remain at the corridors of power until all your monies find ways into his pockets. I guess that is not what you want. His centrifugal and centripetal brands of politics have been known in his former political party and so he is now strategizing his next move in his new found bed of odd fellows. It is upto Nigerians to recognize his ilks and block them.

Elias Osaghae writes from Toronto, Canada. via osaghae.pastorelias@gmail.com

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