You’re witch-hunting me-Saraki insists
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, chairman, Ibrahim Magu, on Monday, dismissed as untenable the claim by Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, that the fresh move by the commission to probe his tenure as governor of Kwara State and Senate President amounted to a witch-hunt.
Magu in a response to the claim by Saraki made it clear to the Senate President that he was not above the law and could therefore not decide how and when he should be investigated by the anti-graft agency.
The Chairman, who has been denied confirmation twice by Saraki-led Senate, reminded the Senate President that he should harbour no fear if he was sure there were no skeletons in his cupboard.
Magu explained that the decision to probe Saraki was borne out of overriding public interest and nothing else.
Magu in the statement signed by Tony Orilade, the acting spokesman for the EFCC, said: “EFCC has taken note of the reactions of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki to the Commission’s inquiries regarding his earnings as Kwara State governor as well as on the quality of his financial stewardship in the Senate.
“While it is his prerogative to ventilate his views on the matter as he deems fit, the Commission takes great exception at the desperate attempt to cast a slur on its investigative activities by portraying Saraki as a victim of persecution.
“Furthermore, the Agency finds the attempt by the Senate President to tie our inquest to his International Human Rights Commission, IHRC appointment and his approaching life out of power as misleading, knowing too well that the background to our current inquiries reaches several years back.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the EFCC is obligated by law to enthrone probity and accountability in the governance space and has supremely pursued this duty without ill-will or malice against anyone.
“It is in the interest of the public, and for Saraki’s personal good, that he is not only above board, but be seen at all times to be so.
“Indeed, all the instances in which the EFCC have had cause to look into his financial activities either as a former governor or President of the Senate were driven by overriding public interest and due process of the law.
“Against the background of the avalanche of indicting petitions and other evidence available to the EFCC, even Saraki will agree with the Commission that putting him through a legitimate forensic inquiry is the legitimate route to establish his integrity as a public servant.
“The distinguished Senate President has no need to fret so long as he has no skeletons in his cupboard.
“The Commission has a sacred mandate to rid the country of corruption and corrupt elements and restates its unflinching resolve to achieve these, no matter whose ox is gored.
But Saraki has also described as mere witch-hunt the investigations commenced by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the various institutions where he had served or presently serving.
The Senate president said this in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu.
Saraki argued that the exercise by the EFCC was only aimed at settling scores, laced with malicious and partisan motives.
The EFCC in the report had 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 (Saraki) announcement as IHRC ambassador at large which came on Sunday, April 28, 2019, with two clear days.”
But Saraki in the statement pointed out that the “IHRC letter informing the Senate President of his appointment was dated March 16, 2019, that is about 40 days before the EFCC wrote its letter conveying the investigations to the 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.
“At this point, we need to remind members of the public that Dr. Saraki’s 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 the incumbent governor, he voluntarily waived his immunity and submitted to investigation and yet nothing was found against him. Also, members of the public should be reminded that during the proceedings of his trial at the Code of Conduct
Saraki insisted that the new investigation into his activities as governor of Kwara State was a repeat performance, adding that the EFCC was fishing for evidence that they did not get in the past investigations, which spanned almost nine years.
He reminded the commission he is not an outgoing governor, adding that since 2011, tens of governors have been in and out of the various state houses, likewise, hundreds of Senators and members of House of Representatives.
“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,” the statement argued.
“While we do not wish to obstruct the EFCC in the performance of its tasks, we reiterate our position that the commission should be professional, ethical, transparent and consistent.
“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,” the statement.