The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday arraigned the Kwara State Commissioner for Information, Prince Olatunji Oyeyemi Moronfoye, and Ope Saraki and Senior Special Adviser on Millennium Development Goals to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, before Justice A.O Faji of the Federal High Court, Ilorin for offences bordering on abuse of office, awarding contracts to cronies, diversion of public funds and money laundering.
Moronfoye was docked on a three count charge while Saraki who was arraigned alongside his companies: Cogent Integrated Service Nigeria Limited and Ladida Support Service Limited were arraigned separately on a five count charge.
A statement signed by the EFCC’s Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren stated that
Moronfoye while serving as the seniour special adviser to the former governor, Senator Bukola Saraki, allegedly used his position to enrich himself.
Specifically, he allegedly awarded contracts to the tune of over N200 million for the renovation of Ijagbo Primary Health Centre and Specialist Hospitals within the state, to a company in which he has interest and was the sole signatory to the account.
‘’Saraki similarly abused his office and laundered state funds for his personal benefit by awarding inflated contracts to companies owned by his cronies.
‘’In one of the transactions involving the purchase of Ambulance Buses for hospitals in the state, Saraki duped the people of Kwara State by procuring 13 Hiace buses from a “local car dealer” and converting them to ambulances in place of factory built ones for which a contract of N171.99million was awarded to Chemiroy Nigeria Limited.
One of the counts read:
“That you, Ope Saraki being the Special Adviser on Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to Governor of Kwara State sometime in 2012 at Ilorin within the jurisdiction of this court did by undue interest conducted procurement fraud in the procurement of 13 Units of Ambulance for 13 General/Specialist Hospitals in Kwara State at N171,990, 000; a contract awarded to Chemiroy Nigeria Limited and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 58 (4) (b) of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and punishable under Section 58 (5) of the same Act.”
The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to them upon which
Counsel to EFCC, Joseph O. Uzor urged the court to fix a date for trial to commence.
However, the defence, represented by J.O Olatoke, SAN, applied for bail for his clients, saying that it was their constitutional rights.
Olatoke added that the accused had been on administrative bail of the EFCC since 2013 and had not breached the condition and told the court that Moronfoye, was suffering from a peculiar ailment that warrant him using respirator consistently to sustain his life.
According to him, the prison service does not have the medical facility to treat and maintain the peculiar health condition of the accused.
“Having not abused the administrative bail granted him (Moronfoye) by the prosecution, we urge your Lordship to admit him to bail while assuring you that he will always be available to stand his trial.’’
But, the EFCC Counsel, Uzor argued that the ‘’accused could be evasive if admitted to bail,” adding that the Nigeria Prisons Service had well equipped medical facilities in its locations across the country and competent manpower to attend to any ailment. He urged the court to exercise its discretion judicially and judiciously.
After listening to the submissions of both counsel, Justice Faji admitted the accused to bail in the sum of N50million and two sureties in like sum. The sureties must produce “Certificate of Occupancy” of landed property within the urban area of Ilorin and must swear to affidavit of means. The sureties must also produce evidence of tax payment for three years just as the accused must report to EFCC Head Office every three weeks as well as notify the commission whenever he intended to travel outside the country.
Similarly, Justice Faji granted Saraki bail after he was asked to deposit his International