OrderPaperToday – President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has lamented that a fresh investigation into activities of his office and past tenure as governor of Kwara state by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is a witch-hunt and act of political vendetta.

In a 17-paragraph statement signed by his media aide, Yusuph Olaniyonu and released late Tuesday night, Saraki accused the anti-graft agency of being unprofessional, vengeful and inconsistent.

The EFCC had recently requested the government of Kwara state to furnish it with details of Saraki’s tenure in office as governor, bringing to light issues that may have been resolved by past investigations undertaken by the commission.

In the statement however, Saraki revealed that a probe has now been launched into his soon-to-be-expired tenure as President of the Senate, stating that the management of the national assembly and not his office should be called to question over financial transactions.

He said: “Not satisfied with the reports submitted by its various teams which worked on the Saraki case in Ilorin and Lagos, the EFCC constituted a fresh team to investigate the Office of the Senate President and despatched another letter late last week to the Clerk of the Senate signed by Mohammed Umar Abba, Director of Operations, in which it requested for the following: “the Certified True Copies of the following: i) All Cash Books, Payment Vouchers, Contract Award Letters, Evidence of Contract Bidding, Agreement and Certificate of Contract Completion from 2015 to date. ii) Certified True Copies of all Financial Retirement made within the same period. iii) Any other information that may assist the Commission in its investigation”.

“We observed that this type of letter was only written to the Office of the Senate President and not to both chambers of the National Assembly. Also, it is the first time such a letter is written to the office of the Senate President at the twilight of the tenure of the National Assembly indicating hostile investigation along these lines. None of his predecessors got such ‘exclusive’ treatment in which their office was investigated by state officials seeking to nail them at all cost. What EFCC does not know is that all the issues they are seeking to probe in the office of the Senate President are handled by the National Assembly Management, that is the bureaucracy of the federal legislature. The Senate President has nothing to do with such issues. However, in the eagerness and desperation to nail Dr. Saraki, they ignored even the basic facts upon which the entire investigation rests.”

The statement said Saraki could no longer ignore the multiple probe of his person hence “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.”

Saraki also said the fresh probe into his tenure as governor was a “repeat performance” and reawakening of matters tried and rested during the proceedings of his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) between 2015 and 2018 where “it became clear that the evidence relied upon was from investigations conducted by the EFCC on his tenure as Governor and that is why the lead witness for the prosecution was an EFCC agent, Michael Wetkas. Yet, the CCT in its judgement dismissed the 16 charges filed against Dr. Saraki and that verdict was upheld by the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court.”

According to him, “this new investigation into his activities as Governor of Kwara State is a repeat performance. The EFCC is fishing for evidence that they did not get in the past investigations which has spanned almost nine years. However, we need to remind the Commission that Dr. Saraki is not an outgoing Governor.

“Since 2011, tens of governors have been in and out of our various State Houses. Likewise, hundreds of Senators and Representatives have been in and out of the National Assembly. 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.”

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Damilola is a multiple award-winning Writer, Researcher, and Community/Sustainable Development Practitioner. His interests and experience span across media, academics, human capital development, and strategic planning. Damilola is the first Nigerian in history to win the blog4dev writing contest organised by the World Bank. Also, his writing on violent extremism and sustainable peace in Nigeria won a PeaceWriteNow prize, presented by the Embassy of Ireland in June, 2018. His works have been published in Nigeria and the United States of America, in English and in French. Damilola has also attended important meetings within and outside the African continent including the 2019 Spring Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C, USA. He was also a special guest on a panel discussion titled “How creative industry can help to stem fragility,” which was held at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington, D.C, USA. Furthermore, Damilola was selected as a Champion of Advocacy against extreme poverty and preventable diseases by ONE Campaign in May, 2019. An alumnus of the prestigious Lagos Business School and Federal University of Technology Akure, Damilola Adeniran represents Nigeria in the Youth Transforming Africa Program.

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