Tuesday, 21 May 2013
Alleged N11 billion Fraud: Questions Bukola Saraki Is Dodging
For the past weeks, Senator Bukola Saraki’s well-oiled media lobby has tried a great deal to explain the former governor’s side to the N11b loan scam over which the powerful politician is being investigated. They are doing so in manners that suggest that the whole issue is one big conspiracy hatched by some powerful forces to hang Saraki. An arm of the lobby tries to tie the police investigation to the motion the senator sponsored last year calling for the probe of the alleged mismanagement of the fuel subsidy, now followed by head-scratching revelations.
The other arm attempts to link it to the politics of 2015 with some politicians, allegedly aided by the Presidency, trying to checkmate Saraki. I concede that the first lobby has done enough to justify whatever amount budgeted for the propaganda. Up to 10 different well-written articles have appeared on this topic in various newspapers and online portals.
On the heels of those came an official press release from Saraki himself explaining his ‘side’ of the story in the dailies of Friday May 11, 2012. Whilst keeping quiet on the conspiracy theories above, Saraki again denied any link to the Joy Petroleum – the company he believes is at the heart of the police investigation – and alleged media prosecution of the case against him.
But the irony of the whole propaganda is that the more Bukola Saraki and his media lobby speak on this matter the more vivid his links (and perhaps culpability) in the entire saga become in the eyes of all lovers of details and probity.
Everything written by his media lobby and the contents of his press statement deliberately ignored the facts of the case against him. They have failed to answer all relevant questions even an inexperienced investigator will ask. Again, that is expected. The whole agenda of the propaganda is to shift public attention from facts to sentiments.
Here are some of the questions from which Saraki and his media lobby are running: if his (Saraki’s) claim that Joy Petroleum Limited is owned by his late aide, how come persons directly linked to Saraki, including one Abdul Adamu, were still making transactions to and from the accounts belonging to the same company while the fellow was bedridden and even after his death? Police have said that the names in the documentations of the Bank included the wife of the former governor, Toyin Saraki, and the former Commissioner of Finance and current Governor of Kwara State, Abdufattah Ahmed.
Police also said a loan obtained by Joy Petroleum ltd. was lumped together with Dicetrade Nigeria Ltd and Likam Ltd. (both of which Saraki has admitted having interest) by the Bank which were separately obtained by the companies. What is the point lumping together a loan obtained by company A with company B if there are no established relationships? Police also said the stock purchased by the Kwara State Ministry of Finance was used as collateral for the loan approved to Joy Petroleum Ltd. by the Bank. Neither Kwara State Government nor any other agency has denied this. They have also said that Joy Petroleum Ltd., Dicetrade Nigeria Ltd. and Likam Nig. Ltd share one registered office address, No 10, Abebe Village, Iganmu, Lagos and operate one office address, No 30 Saka Tinubu Street, Victoria Island, Lagos (property of Saraki). It also happens that No 10 Abebe close is the office of TOYIN Pinheiro SAN, Saraki’s personal friend and lawyer. Police said Saraki had used his office as the Governor of Kwara State to influence the purchase of the above named companies' stock by the Kwara State Ministry of Finance and that the Plaintiff at material times (going by bank documents) was a promoter of Joy Petroleum Ltd. and on several occasions used his personal properties to guarantee loans taken by the companies including Joy Petroleum.
These are weighty allegations against Saraki and interestingly all are related to the said Joy Petroleum ltd. Just as Saraki has kept quiet on why payments and withdrawals were made by individuals directly linked to him even after the supposed owner of the company was long dead, his media lobby has also refused to address other issues raised by the police. If Saraki has no interest in the company, how come properties of the government he ran were used in the transactions involving the company? How come he is not addressing the established link between the company and his wife and commissioner for finance? He said the loans were not collaterised, what then do we make of the established link (as bank documents show) between Saraki’s properties and the loan? In fact, his claim that the loan (about which he claims ignorance) was not collaterised raises another question about his sincerity.
As for whether the case against him is being prosecuted in the media, Saraki again is the one guilty of such accusations. Police authorities last made a statement on the matter the day he appeared in Abuja, rather than the Lagos office of the SFU to which he was originally invited. And that statement was quite silent on the case against him. It only stated that he appeared in Abuja and was expected to report again in Lagos the next Thursday.
That is probably because the matter is already before the court, where both parties have filed affidavits and counter affidavits to state their respective case. Since then, Bukola Saraki has granted at least two interviews online including the one granted japh omojuwa.com touching this issue.
The above suggests that Saraki is commissioning several write ups to deceive the unwary public and whip up sentiments. It is on record that Saraki deliberately lied to the world that he has obtained an injunction against the police whereas no such thing exists. Rather than summon a moral conviction to apologise to the public for such show of shame, Saraki has continued to spread falsehoods. But nothing exposes Saraki as a lawless and indecorous fellow other than his continued public statements over the veracity or otherwise of allegations already submitted to the court for adjudication. What is more, this was the same person that took the matter to the court in the first instance. Also, while Saraki is publicly asserting his innocence, privately he is said to be going around lobbying everybody from the President to the Sultan of Sokoto to the IG to have the investigation killed.
Finally, Saraki is not the first public official to be questioned by the police. Even as matters stand now, the police have not preferred any charges against him. Yet one cannot recall there being this much sponsored write up about anybody in recent times has there has been in favour of Saraki. Someone is clearly very jittery somewhere.
· Omololu, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja