Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has told a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos State how aides and other yet to be identified persons lodged cash and other monetary instruments totaling N15 billion and $13 million into the personal account of Senate President Bukola Saraki when he was governor of Kwara State.
The agency said the peak of the suspicious lodgments was on October 26, 2009, when 88 different persons lodged the sum of N80 million into the account of the Senate President.
EFCC made the revelations in a counter affidavit it filed against a fundamental human rights enforcement suit against it by one Dr. Kennedy Izuagbe, the managing director of Carlisle Properties Investment Limited, a firm owned by Senator Saraki
Izugbe, in the suit, first filed about three years ago, but struck out by the court on June 20, , 2017 due to lack of diligent prosecution, but has now been restored, asked the court to stop EFCC from arresting him.
The managing director of Carlisle in the affidavit filed before the court on his behalf by Mahmud Magaji SAN stated that he was first invited by EFCC on the 13th of November 2014 and after series of interrogations, he did not hear from the agency again, until 29 April, 2015 when he was again invited.
He added that EFCC requested for some documents including, ones relating to how Saraki purchased his landed properties which are under the management of Carlisle Property and Investment Limited during interactions with him.
He, however, said he told them the anti-graft agency that information related to the landed properties can only be accessed from the Senate President.
But Izuagbe stated that he was surprised to read on pages of newspapers how EFCC has been manipulating media perception to the effect that the portfolio of his company could have been derived from the public service proceeds of its beneficial owners.
He added that on August 26, 2015, while he was in the United States on holiday, he was informed that EFCC came to the headquarters of his company with lorry load of policemen and ransacked the offices and carted away several documents
Based on the foregoing, Izuagbe asked the court for an order directing the EFCC from further intimidating and harassing him and other workers of the company.
The EFCC, however, deny almost all the averments by Izuagbe in its counter affidavit.
The Commission told the court that its interest in Izuagbe was because it is investigating a case of money laundering against the Senate President.
EFCC said the investigation was spurred by on discovery of multiple lodgments of cash and monetary instruments by companies linked to the former Kwara State governor and regular cash inflows into Saraki’s personal account by his aides and other yet to be identified persons totaling N15billion and another $13 million.
EFCC added that its investigations revealed that on October 26 , 2009 alone, 88 different persons paid a total of N80 million into an account owned by Saraki.
The EFCC said it has commenced an investigation to unravel the sources of the unusual payments and has so far discovered that Dr Izuagbe was the Managing Director of Carlisle Properties and Investment Company, the firm owned by Saraki that received the funds from many individuals and from over 150 companies.
Izuagbe acting on behalf of Saraki, EFCC said also directed that the funds be wired offshore to as after being deposited.
EFCC said it was based on the ongoing investigation that Izuagbe was invited with a view to obtaining his reaction to the allegations.
The anti-graft agency said Izuagbe honored the invitation, made a voluntary statement and was asked to report back.
However, the anti-graft agency added that during the course of the investigation, Izuagbe informed its operatives that his mother was dead and was allowed to go on compassionate grounds.
But EFCC said Izuagbe thereafter became incommunicado and all efforts to get him proved abortive as his phone was no longer going through, hence hampering the course of the investigation.
The anti-graft agency said it was when all efforts to reach Izuagbe proved abortive that a warrant of arrest was secured for his arrest,
EFCC also asserted in the affidavit that it is statutorily empowered to cause an investigation to be conducted as to whether any person, corporate body or organization has committed any economic or financial crimes.
It, therefore, told the court that restraining EFCC from further investigations into economic or financial crimes reported to, as Izuagbe was asking it to do, will send wrong signals to criminally minded persons who may want to violate the law of the land with impunity and hide under the protection of the court.
Consequently, the agency urged the court to refuse to accede to the request of the applicant.
The suit has been adjourned to March 12, 2017 for definite hearing.