ECONOMIC and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) officials have sealed off five properties belonging to senate president Senator Bukola Saraki in Lagos claiming he acquired them using public funds when he was Kwara State governor.
Senator Saraki governed Kwara State between 2003 and 2011 and earlier this month, the EFCC began investigating what happened during his tenure. It is expected that senator Saraki will be arrested and formally charged with corruption when his tenure ends on May 29 and a new senate president is elected.
Yesterday, the five choice properties located in high brow Ikoyi area of Lagos, were sealed by the EFCC and the agency is now in the process of approaching a court for an interim forfeiture order. Thought to have been purchased sing state funds, the mansions under seal include 15, 15A, 17 and 17A McDonald Road, Ikoyi.
In addition to believing that they were bought using public funds, the EFCC also believes that Senator Saraki has not declared them. EFCC investigations so far have begun probing how a N17bn Kwara State bond was spent, allocations to the state from the federation account during Senator Saraki’s tenure as governor and some suspicious transactions by the administration of the outgoing Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed.
One EFCC source said: “It is an ongoing case which has to do with alleged illegally acquired properties while he held sway as the governor of Kwara State. We have attached the five properties in line with sections 27(4), 28 and 29 of the EFCC Establishment Act.
“We don’t have to obtain a court order before attaching any property as our act is very clear with regards to that. Once you link a property to proceeds of crime, the next thing is to attach it by way of marking and to approach the court for forfeiture.”
Also being investigated by the EFCC in respect of the N17bn Kwara State bond are outgoing Governor Ahmed and the accountant-general of Kwara State. Among other things, the EFCC wants to establish how the money was spent as it suspects that part of the funds may have been diverted for private use.
Already, the EFCC has interrogated the secretary to the Kwara State government, two permanent secretaries, the accountant-general of the state and about three contractors. All those invited were said to have made voluntary statements, while two ex-commissioners and two members of the House of Representatives might be questioned too.
However, one Kwara State government source has accused the EFCC of embarking on a wild goose chase because the bond has been fully repaid since 2014 without any outstanding liability for the people of Kwara State. Senator Saraki and the government have been at loggerheads over the last year after he left the ruling All Progressives Congress and joined the main opposition the Peoples Democratic Party.