A White Paper of a panel set up by the Kwara State government on allegations of unlawful sales of government properties from May 29, 1999, to May 29, 2019, has recommended prosecution of 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.
However, reacting to the recommendation by the panel, Saraki in a statement dismissed the panel’s recommendations, saying neither him nor his successor were invited by the panel to give evidence.
Saraki, in a statement from his media office, 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 10 years ago nor Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, the immediate last 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 the 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 an 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.”
Chairman of the White Paper Panel on the unlawful sales of government’s properties, Barrister Hussein Buhari, had 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.
“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,” he added.
Credit: Nigerian Tribune