Opening The Can Of Worms
•Web of alleged graft that binds Conduct Bureau, Tribunal, EFCC, Senate President•Why Senate President must face Tribunal
By Jide Ajani
At a time when it all looked uncertain, Sunday Vanguard dared to tell the world, categorically, in September 2011, that the case by the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, against, former governor of Lagos State, Ashiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, would fail because it was a voyage in misadventure. It did. Today, four years after, the same CCB, with its Chairman, Sam Saba, has embarked on another voyage, this time against Senate President Bukola Saraki, at a time when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is also investigating the former for allegations leveled against him by some staff regarding diversion of funds meant for promotion arrears. This report will show why President Muhammadu Buhari must dispel the insinuation that his anti-corruption war, as being polluted by the CCB, the CCT, as well as Ibrahim Lamorde, Chairman of the EFCC, who himself is being investigated by the Senate for alleged diversion of N2trillion in recovered loot, is not his making by bringing-in fresh hands to help him fight this war. The report will also show why, like Tinubu, Saraki should face the tribunal and get this monkey off his back – if he can.
A WEB OF CORRUPT PRACTICES
A petition from M L Ibrahim & Co Chambers in Kano, against Sam Saba, Chairman, Code of Conduct Bureau, dated May 7, 2015, was sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. The particulars of the petition, which was primarily the alleged diversion of over N100million by the Chairman, was signed by Lawan Yaro Mohammed.
Sunday Vanguard gathered from Mohammed during a telephone chat, yesterday, that the petition was, indeed, sent to the EFCC. He also confirmed that the EFCC had been inviting Saba in the course of the investigation of the matter.
That was not all.
Sunday Vanguard was able to also establish that, as was the case with a former governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, when Saba, working with some officials of Goodluck Jonathan’s Presidency, arraigned Tinubu without informing his fellow Commissioners at CCB, the case against Saraki, without prejudice to its merit, was also kick-started without the full knowledge and participation of fellow Commissioners. In 2011, the Commissioner in charge of the South-West Zone, as was published at that time, did not even know Tinubu would be arraigned.
Therefore, yesterday, Sunday Vanguard got in touch with the Commissioner in charge of North-Central Zone, Dr. Christie Ekoja.
Asked if she carried out the verification of the assets declaration of Saraki and if the CCB invited the beleaguered senator for clarification, she politely responded by saying “no comment”. The question is, why would the head of an anti-corruption body, enmeshed in allegations of corruption, be the one to set another for arraignment before a court?
Bukola Saraki and alleged false declaration
The charges against Saraki are already well know and are in the public domain, from under-declaration to anticipatory declaration. The CCT is seeking his appearance tomorrow to answer to these charges.
He is also being accused of operating a foreign bank account as a public officer.
Whatever defects he claims the allegations have, he still needs to appear before the tribunal and defend himself. Until he is discharged of these allegations, they will hang over him no matter the plethora of court orders he gets.
Bribery allegation and Mr. Danladi Umar, CCT Chairman’s Office
The third leg of the web of alleged corruption is Danladi Yakubu Umar, the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT. Information available to Sunday Vanguard suggests that, sometime last year, a retired Comptroller of Customs, Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo, who was standing trial before Umar, allegedly negotiated a deal either with Umar or somebody in his office. N10million was the amount said to have been agreed to. Taiwo, playing along, allegedly paid N1.8million into the account of the PA to Umar. Now whether it was meant for Umar or the PA was conducting his own private racket, is still being investigated by the EFCC.
Yet, the bulk of the witnesses the CCB and the CCT would be relying on are coming from the EFCC end. Still, it has not pricked the conscience of the EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, or Saba of CCB and Umar of CCT that Nigerians would read a meaning of an unholy alliance into what is at play.
Ibrahim Lamorde of EFCC and allegations of embezzlement
The drama started with the EFCC inviting the wife of the Senate President, Toyin Saraki, for questioning. She was questioned, last month, but has so far not been charged to court by the Commission. It was after that that, the Senate, acting on a petition by one George Uboh alleging that Lamorde embezzled N2trillion, being proceeds of the sale of forfeited assets and recovered funds.
Meanwhile, the investigation by the Senate Committee is still on. Therefore, no other time would have been more opportune to rush before the CCT – without prejudice to the facts of the matter as presented before the CCT.
Once Saraki became Senate President by eyeballing his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and going ahead to defy same when filling leadership positions in the Senate, even a fool would have known that there would be a fight-back. But no one would have expected the fight-back to come in this form.
The legally laid down procedure for conducting an investigation in the event of any allegation of a breach of its Act by public officers covered by the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act provides thus:
(1)Any complaint that a public officer has committed a breach of or has not complied with the provisions of this Act shall be made to the Bureau. (2) Upon the receipt of any complaint, the Bureau shall cause a notice to be served on the public officer concerned to appear before it within a period of fourteen days from the service of the said notice. (3) The Bureau shall upon the commencement of investigation serve a notice debarring the public officer concerned from disposing of or otherwise dealing with any property which is the subject of investigation
By virtue of the above section, the Code of Conduct Bureau is required and mandated by law to serve notice on any public officer against whom a complaint has been made.
Having spoken with the Commissioner for the North-Central Zone, Sunday Vanguard was reliably informed at the CCB that no service has been made on the Senate President yet.
Whereas President Buhari is bent on fighting corruption, this convoluted approach, especially the web of alleged corrupt practices between the Senate President, Saraki, EFCC’s Ibrahim Lamorde’s on-investigation by the Senate, the petitions against Sam Saba of CCB and Danladi Umar of CCT, all form a staple for corruption unlimited.