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Saraki kicks as panel recommends prosecution over asset sales

A former Governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki, his successor Abdulfatah Ahmed and other former government officials have been recommended for trial following their alleged…

A former Governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki, his successor Abdulfatah Ahmed and other former government officials have been recommended for trial following their alleged indictment by the government White Paper Panel on sales of public assets.

Chairman of the White Paper Panel on the unlawful sales of government’s properties from May 29, 1999, to May 29, 2019, Barrister Hussein Buhari said this during the submission of the report of the panel, according to a statement issued Thursday by Rafiu Ajakaye, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the incumbent Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.

Buhari said the findings in the report were mind-boggling and “nothing short of diligent prosecution, possible jail terms and recovery of many of the properties can avenge the official connivances that led to the pilferage of the assets.”

According to him, “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”.

Ajakaye’s statement quoted the chairman of the panel as saying that none of the officials honoured the invitations for them to clear the air on the deals, adding that the administration should prosecute them as a matter of justice, a request “Governor said has been noted for action”.

The statement further quoted the chairman of the panel as saying that: “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.

“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.

“Based on what we discovered, the people that were in the helms of affairs for the past 16 connived to perpetrate evils and they were given ample opportunities to defend themselves by the judicial panel of inquiry and they refused to come. It shows they were accomplices in the whole deals”.

But reacting to the issue, Saraki, who spoke through Abdulqadir Abdulganiyu, Press Officer, Local Matters, described the allegation as false and diversionary.

Abdulganiyu said it “shows how low governance has become in Kwara State”.

He said: “First, for the information of discerning members of the public, neither Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki who left the Office of Governor of Kwara State ten years ago nor Alhaji Abdulfatai Ahmed, the immediate past governor got an invite to appear before any investigative and fact-finding panel set up by the Abdulrazaq administration.

“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.

“Both Dr. Saraki and Alhaji Ahmed will never be shy of giving account of how they managed the assets of Kwara State. In fact, both men took decisions concerning those assets in a manner that will enhance their value and stimulate economic activities in the state, which was hitherto referred to as a civil service state.”

 

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