An investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Olamide Sadiq, has told Justice Mohammed Liman of a Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, that properties located at 17 and 17A McDonald Road, Ikoyi, Eti-Osa Local Government Area, owned by a former Senate President and ex-governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki, are believed to have been purchased with funds drawn from the coffers of the Kwara State government.
The EFCC had secured an order of interim forfeiture of the properties which was published in The Nation Newspaper, on October 25, 2019. Subsequently, the anti-graft agency had approached the Court for a final forfeiture of the properties, prompting the Court to fix a date for both parties to call deponents and witnesses.
Testifying before the Court on November 25, 2020, Sadiq, an operative of the EFCC, who was led-in-evidence by Nnaemeka Omewa, narrated how investigation indicated certain infractions relating to monies withdrawn from the state’s treasury during the administration of Saraki spanning 2003 to 2011.
He said: “As part of investigation, we wrote to GTB requesting for the bank statement of Dr. Bukola Saraki, and there was need to interrogate Mr. Bayo Abdulrahman Daudu.
“In the course of interviewing him, I showed him the statement of account along with other documents including offer letters from the Presidential Implementation Committee for Land Property relating to the Ikoyi properties.”
He further told the Court that findings necessitated the extension of investigation to the accounts belonging to the state, and to interview more persons believed to be in the know of how monies withdrawn from the accounts of the state, were paid into the GTB account of Saraki.
He said: “There was need to interview Afeez Yusuf, who volunteered statement.
“I asked him how many accounts the Kwara State Government House operated, which he obliged were domiciled with Zenith Bank and Access Bank [then Intercontinental Bank].”
Sadiq informed the Court that the banks were contacted to furnish the EFCC with statements of account of the Government House.
He further revealed that Yusuf, who worked as a cashier at the Government House was making withdrawals from the Access and Zenith bank accounts during the period under investigation.
According to Sadiq, those interviewed during investigation said that there was a directive from Saraki that the money withdrawn be given to one Abdul Adama, a personal aide of the former governor.
He said: “We were able to lay our hands on some of the documents, but some had been mutilated; the documents showed several payments of money withdrawn from the state coffers and deposited at various times into the account of Saraki domiciled in GTB.”
According to Sadiq, “from investigation, these properties in question were purchased with loan obtained from GTB which was paid off with money withdrawn from the state, deposited into Saraki’s GTB account to defray the loan.”
“The same period the money were withdrawn from the Government House account, they were deposited into the account of Saraki,” he added.
Earlier in the course of proceedings, Omewa had also called on Yusuf as a witness, who also corroborated his role in withdrawing money from the Government House account based on the instruction of his boss, Isiaka Kareem, then Controller, Finance and Account at the Government House, to be given to persons on a list given to him by Isiaka.
About N1,160,000,000 withdrawn from the Government Account is alleged by the EFCC to have been diverted over the period of investigation.
Saraki’s counsel, Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN, while cross-examining the witnesses, however, argued that in his personal status as an accomplished businessman before becoming governor Saraki was capable of acquiring properties without government money.
The case has been adjourned till December 16, 2020 for “final written addresses”.