Nigeria Senate president Bukola Saraki Wednesday said the latest probe into his earnings by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is a witch-hunt against his person.
Nigeria’s anti-graft agency Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Monday said there was an ongoing probe of Saraki’s earnings while he was Kwara State governor from 2003 to 2011.
His media aide Yusuph Olaniyonu said in a statement on Tuesday that the investigations were “less than noble” and insisted that the government is deliberately witch-hunting his principal.
“While we have kept quiet over the series of letters sent to various institutions where Dr. Saraki had served or is serving in which the commission stated that it is conducting various investigations, we are compelled to make our positions known on the less than noble and patriotic objectives behind these investigations because we believe it is a mere witch-hunt exercise, aimed at settling scores, laced with malicious and partisan motives,” Olaniyonu said in statement.
“To single out one individual for persistent investigation can only be logically and plausibly interpreted to be a witch-hunt. This is definitely no fight against corruption. It is a battle waged against a ‘political enemy’. It is a ‘label to damage’ plot.”
EFCC claimed that the probe was not in connection to his recent appointment as the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC) ambassador as reported in Nigeria media outfits.
However, Saraki said EFCC’s claim for the probe was false as his earnings as Kwara State governor had long been probed before his emergence as Nigeria’s Senate president in 2015.
“We will first make clarifications to put a lie to some of the claims made by the EFCC in the statement issued yesterday.”
He explained that “The EFCC claimed that “the commission’s letter to the Kwara State Government House, which sought an inquest into Saraki’s earnings as the state Governor, from 2003 to 2011 was dated Friday, April 26, 2019, predating his announcement as IHRC ambassador at large which came on Sunday, April 28, 2019 with two clear days”.”
He said the IHRC letter informing the Senate President of his appointment is dated March 16, 2019, which is about 40 days before the EFCC wrote its letter conveying the investigations to Kwara State Government House.
“In fact, the media team of the Senate President held on to the announcement of the appointment for several weeks so that we could do due diligence on it.”
He stated that his “tenure as Kwara State Governor has been investigated several times since his last months in Office in 2010 till date. In fact, at a point, as incumbent Governor, he voluntarily waived his immunity and submitted to investigation and yet nothing was found against him.”
Saraki insisted that his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) between 2015 and 2018 on a 16-count charge filed against him further proved his innocence after being upheld by the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“The EFCC is fishing for evidence that they did not get in the past investigations which has spanned almost nine years,” his spokesman said.
Saraki, however, said the consistent probes on him are expressions of EFCC’s “eagerness and desperation to nail Dr. Saraki, they ignored even the basic facts upon which the entire investigation rests.”
He said the 8th National Assembly under his leadership has supported the anti-corruption war by Muhammadu Buhari administration “to make the EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies more efficient, and generally, in aid of the fight against corruption.”
He urged the EFCC to be “professional, ethical, transparent and consistent” as “It cannot be deemed professional when the agency is not consistent in the application of its rules and the laws to all cases and individuals.”