Former Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki, has described the allegations of mismanagement of Kwara State’s assets as an attempt by the state government to dent his integrity.
Saraki, a former Kwara Governor was reacting to the recommendation of the white paper panel on the sale of government assets by the Governor Abdulrazaq AbdulRahman-led administration.
The panel had alleged that Saraki and his successor, Abdulfatai Ahmed, mismanaged the state’s assets during their administration as governor.
But Saraki denied the claims, while criticising the panel for not observing proper and due diligence before putting out such allegations.
The panel alleged the two former governors in conjunction with other government officials sold the state’s assets which included the Shonga Farms, Satellite Motel, and other properties in Kaduna, Abuja and Lagos, at giveaway prices.
This was contained in a statement issued on Thursday by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Kwara State, Rafiu Ajakaye.
According to the statement, the panel recommended that the two former governors and some other former government officials be made to face trial over their alleged involvement in the sale of public assets.
The statement in part reads, “The Chairman of the White Paper Panel on the unlawful sales of government’s properties from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2019, Mr Hussein Buhari, said during the submission of the report that findings in the report were mind boggling and said 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.
“He 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 Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, said has been noted for action.”
The chairman of the panel was also quoted as saying, “The committee swung into action immediately it was inaugurated and went through the report of the judicial commission of Inquiry on the sale of Kwara State Government assets between May 1999 and May 2019. There is so much rot perpetrated by the past governments, especially in the 16 years before 2019.
“For instance, the rot about Shonga Farms, Satellite Motel, and our properties in Kaduna, Abuja and Lagos is 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 justice. The Electoral Act is very clear that anybody, who is found guilty of mismanagement of resources, should be banned for 10 years from holding political office. We wish the government will accept our recommendations and set up an implementation committee.”
However, Saraki through his Media Office, in a statement titled: ‘Abdulrahman’s Govt’s False and Diversionary Claims’, described the statement by the government as incoherent, fallacious, as well as a calculated attempt to dent his impeccable integrity.
Saraki in the statement stated that neither him nor his successor got any invitation to appear before any investigative panel. The statement also described the allegations as shocking because Saraki and Ahmed knew nothing about any panel until the public announcement by the state government.
The statement reads “First, for the information of discerning members of the public, neither Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who left the office of governor of Kwara State 10 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 predecessors of Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq in office.
“Secondly, while reacting to the claims contained in the poorly written and disjointed press statement, it should be noted that 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 would enhance their value and stimulate economic activities in the state, which was hitherto referred to as a civil service state.”
“The press statement also mentioned the Shonga Farms as one of the projects on which the government seeks to make the Saraki administration look bad. This Shonga Farms, more than anything, demonstrates the cluelessness of the current governor of Kwara State and his advisers. That is why on some occasions, key officials of the administration will hold the Shonga Farms as a glory of Kwara State, and on some other occasions, like the case of the press statement under reference, it will seek to paint it in bad light.”
Saraki has been involved in many court trials bordering on various allegations. He became the first Senate President to be served an arrest warrant. The Chairman of the Code Of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Danladi Umar issued an arrest warrant against Saraki in September 2015 over allegations of false declaration of assets. Saraki was discharged and acquitted on the allegations as well as other corruption allegations.