Prosecute Saraki, others indicted in assets probe, panel tells Kwara govt

Date: 2021-05-28

The panel investigating the unlawful sale and disposal of government-owned assets in Kwara State has recommended the prosecution of two former governors, Bukola Saraki and Abdulfatah Ahmed, and others indicted in its report.

Hussein Buhari, the chairman of the white paper panel on the unlawful sale of government’s properties from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2019, said this during the submission of a report, detailing its findings.

“Former Governor Bukola Saraki, his successor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, and other former government officials named in alleged economic sabotage against the state through sales of public assets to cronies at giveaway prices should be prosecuted in court, a white paper committee has urged Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq,” the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, said in a Thursday statement.

Mr Saraki, a former senate president, served two terms between 2003 and 2011 as Kwara governor, after which Mr Ahmed succeeded him and also ruled for eight years.

According to Mr Ajakaye, the chairman of the panel said the former governors and many of their aides have questions to answer on how public properties and shares were sold under questionable circumstances, including on the eve of their departures from public offices.

“Buhari said none of these officials honoured the invitations for them to clear the air on the deals, and said the administration should prosecute them as a matter of justice — a request the Governor said has been noted for action.

His words: “The committee swung into action immediately it was inaugurated and went through the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry on the sales of Kwara State Government Assets between May 1999 and May 2019. There are so many rots perpetrated by the past governments especially in the 16 years before 2019.

“For instance, the rots on Shonga Farms, Satellite Motel, and our properties in Kaduna, Abuja and Lagos were simply inconceivable. They were all sold to themselves at giveaway prices. We saw criminal conspiracies. In fact, Kwara State is now heavily indebted to some people because the past governments mismanaged our properties.

“I just wish Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq will have the courage and political will to implement the report so that everybody found wanting will be brought to book. And the Electoral Act is very clear that anybody who is found guilty of mismanagement of resources be banned for 10 years from holding political office. We wish the government will accept our recommendations and set up an implementation committee.

“There are so many instances where those in government before used their positions to acquire government properties in questionable circumstances. For instance, the High Court Complex in Tanke, Ilorin they removed all the steels and allocated the land to themselves, they built hotels and eateries on government properties. All our houses in Kaduna have been sold. Today, apart from our liaison office, we do not have anything in Kaduna.”

“Government should take them to court and prosecute them for economic sabotage and, if found guilty, the government should ban them from holding political offices for 10 years,” Mr Buhari was quoted to have said.

Also, some ministries, bureau of lands, surveying office and many other offices had shady deals with our land in Kwara State, the panel chair stated.

“So, anyone involved should be sanctioned and prosecuted according to the civil service rules. Even if they have retired, they should be brought to book because the connivance was too much. Look at what happened at KWTV. They sold almost all the land at KWTV to themselves. Despite the fact that you must live certain metres away from television mast, those rules were jettisoned.”

“Also, Noktel Hotel is built right on top of aquifer which supplies water to Agba Dam, Ilorin. What we observed is unbelievable. So, for the hotel, we recommend outright demolition of it. Because they knew what they were doing. They have now blocked water from flowing to the dam.

“Also, our shares, bonds and stocks were sold out within five weeks of their leaving office. These are worth billions of naira. Even, the Amoyo International Market in which they claimed that they bought land for over N400m and paid about N200m and also swapped 10 pieces of our land in Abuja for Amoyo land by Harmony Holdings Limited. Personally, Bayo Sanni and Tope Daramola need to be brought to book on the issue.

“On Kwara Mall, it is sad that Kwara State Government put down the sum of N500m, gave land and C of O over the land and they used the C of O to collect another loan in a bank worth N500m and brought nothing to the Kwara State Government. In fact, the sharing formula is 70% to 30%. That is, 30% to the state government that put down everything.

“On Shonga Farms, you brought 13 farmers and you gave them land and huge money in foreign currency and yet nothing was remitted to the state government. They did not stop at that. They mortgaged the same land and collected money from different banks. We also found out that most of the government officials that are involved in all these are deliberately working against the government of the day for selfish reasons. It is impunity. They are working for their pay masters, and not the citizens of Kwara State,” Mr Buhari lamented.

Saraki reacts

Reacting through one of his press officers, Abdulqadir Abdulganiy, Mr Saraki said he and his successor did not get an invite to appear before the fact-finding panel

“Thus, it is clear that the so-called investigation being conducted is not about finding facts. It is about throwing mud and staining the predecessor of Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq in Office.”

Regarding the Kwara Mall, Mr Saraki said it is a project that “stands today as the epicentre of economic activity in Ilorin, the state capital.”

“In fact, it’s importance is further underscored by the decision of the government to give the owners of businesses inside the mall a grant totaling about N1 billion to cushion the harsh effect of the ‘End SARS’ protest on their property.”

On Shonga Farms, the former governor explained that it was well scrutinised before implemented.

“This same Shonga Farms is not only a model of how we need commercial farming to revolutionise agriculture in Nigeria but it is the second commercialism farm in the country. The farm today has an investment worth over $100 million and has in its service over 1000 Kwarans in the state. It is a project that went through the scrutiny of President Olusegun Obasanjo and the CBN.”



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