2019: Saraki in fresh trouble
The presidential ambition of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki in 2019 is facing another hurdle as powerful cabals within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have perfected plans to frustrate his ambition.
Sources close to Nigerian NewsDirect revealed that as it was becoming clearer that President Muhammadu Buhari who is still on medical vacation in London may not be able to stand the rigours of presidential campaign in 2019 and may be advised to withdraw from the race on health grounds, Saraki is in poll position to get the APC ticket if a free and fair primary election is conducted.
Saraki, whose late father was one of the top political key stakeholders in the northern part of the country and Kwara state in particular, was a Special Adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo before he became governor of north central state of Kwara. As governor, he was the Chairman of the very influential Nigerian Governors Forum. After his tenure in Kwara, he installed his erstwhile commissioner of finance, Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed against the wish of his late father.
Also, against the directive of his party, Saraki emerged the Senate President. However, despite animosity from his party and presidency, Saraki had been able to effectively manage the Senate.
However, many power brokers within the party feels that Saraki may be too dangerous to be allowed to rule the country.
“Saraki has an axe to grind with many people in the country, it is too dangerous to allow him to rule” a source told Nigerian NewsDirect.
A top official of APC who spoke under condition of anonymity said the image of Saraki may not fit into the anti-corruption stance of the present regime, which is the major selling point of the party to Nigerians.
“Saraki has corruption cases raised against him by the anti-corruption agencies in respect of his stewardship as the governor of Kwara State, so such a person may not be fit to put on the shoes of President Buhari if he does not want to contest in 2019” the source explained.
The chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay described Saraki led 8th Senate as the worst in the history of Nigeria, adding that its members would be kicked out in 2019 general election.
Nigerian NewsDirect was reliably informed that the current face off between the Special Assistant to the President on Prosecutions, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla and the duo of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu; and Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Ekpo Nta may be about the game plan to frustrate Saraki out of the presidential race.
Obono-Obla said the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, had requested for the case files of ex-governors including Saraki from the anti-corruption outfits but they disobeyed the AGF
Saraki’s case file was among those file being requested. Other ex-governors involved include: Ali Modu Sheriff (Borno); Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia); Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu); Saminu Turaki (Jigawa); Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Joshua Dariye (Plateau); Ahmed Yerima (Zamfara); Gabriel Suswam (Benue); James Ibori (Delta); Martin Elechi (Ebonyi); Danjuma Goje (Gombe); Murtala Nyako (Adamawa); Ikedi Ohakim (Imo); Gbenga Daniel (Ogun); Achike Udenwa (Imo); Ubong Victor Attah (Akwa Ibom); Jolly Nyame (Taraba); Rasheed Ladoja (Oyo); Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo); Adamu Mu’azu (Bauchi); Lucky Igbinedion (Edo) and Peter Odili (Rivers).
However, Nigerian NewsDirect learnt that Saraki was the main target of the lot as his prosecution would affect his preparation and chances at the poll.
In 2014, Saraki was dragged before Justice Ahmed Muhammed of Abuja High Court 7 over corruption charges. The police had insisted then that it had hard facts on how several millions of foreign currencies were wired into Saraki’s domiciliary and Nigerian accounts.
The police also accused Saraki of using fictitious names to launder several millions of dollars into the accounts of some companies owned by him.
“There are several unusual cash inflows into the dollar domiciliary account of Carlislie Properties and Investment Ltd by Polybags Industry (Nig) Ltd.,” according to the police affidavit.
It added that PolyBags Industry made payments of between US$4,500 and US$10,000 eight separate times on 24th August, 2010 amounting to $78,000.
Curiously, the police said, “Polybags Industry Nig. has denied ever making such payments”, raising suspicion that the name Polybag was probably used as a fictitious name to launder the money.
The police said different individuals linked to Saraki, including one Abdul Adama, lodged unusually huge sums of money into his naira and dollar accounts. One of such accounts is identified as 003497479.
The police also said: “On the 10th of May 2009, 18 separate lodgments of $10,000 were made by the said Abdul Adama, who also used the fictitious name of Garba Dare to make some of their lodgments the same date! It totalled US$180,000.00 in one day!
“There was also an unusual single inflow on 12th February, 2010 of the sum of $120,000 which was immediately converted to pound sterling and washed overseas through applicant (Saraki)’s Pound Sterling Account.
“There was unusual single cash inflow on 15th February, 2010 of the sum of $US1,000,000.00 in one day! Same was also converted to pound sterling and washed overseas through British Pound Sterling account No. 441/441953/3/1/0.
“The converted dollars to pounds sterling ended up in the purchase of a real property in the United Kingdom.”
The police also said there were “so many other unusual heavy inflows into the applicant (Saraki)’s account that were usually washed overseas to fund applicant’s American Express Card No.374588216 836009.
“All these lodgments made in favour of applicants have necessitated his invitation,” the affidavit added.
All the money launderings were done through the defunct Intercontinental Bank – which collapse was partly being blamed on Saraki’s clandestine takeover of the institution through his friend and former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),now Emir of Kano Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
However, one of Saraki’s aide who did not want his name in print said the intended persecution of Saraki would fail as those in the past failed.
“They keep putting him (Saraki) on media trial but he keeps winning in the court, they are afraid of his popularity but Nigerians know that their antics is to stop his political ambition but God won’t allow them to succeed” he added.