The CUPS organisation has obtained an exclusive highly confidential report prepared for the former President Goodluck Jonathan about the financial criminality of Mr. Bukola Saraki during his tenure as a Director of Societe Generale Bank (Nigeria) PLC in 1990-2000. The report also covered the period he was elected as the Executive Governor of Kwara State during 2003 – 2011.
Brief history: Mr. Bukola Saraki was born as Olubukola Adebisi Olabowale Saraki on 19/12/1962 at Hampstead North, Metropolitan Bourough of Hampstead, United Kingdom. He worked as a Medical Officer at Rush Green Hospital, Essex in 1988-1989. He was a Director of Societe Generale Bank (Nigeria) PLC in 1990-2000. He was appointed Special Assistant to the President on Budget in 2000. He became the Executive Governor of Kwara state between 2003 and 2011. In April 2011 he was elected a Senator representing Kwara Central senatorial district. He was re-elected in March 2015 for another 4 years term.
1. Saraki’s financial crimes at the Societe General Bank PLC:
The Societe Generale Bank (Nigeria) PLC was sent out of the clearing house in June 2003. By early 2004, the bank and its top management were accused of involvement in a Thirty-Seven Billion Naira (N37 Billion) fraud. The bank was unable to account for Seventeen Billion Naira (N17 Billion) alleged to have been overdrawn from its accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Following the total collapse of the Societe Generale Bank (Nigeria) PLC, on March 20, 2003, the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) were drafted to investigate some allegations of fraud at the bank, perpetrated by the Saraki family. Dr. Olusola Saraki, his wife, Florence, son, Bukola Saraki, and 9 other shareholders were dragged to the NDLEA after being accused of using depositors’ funds to buy shares at the bank, contrary to the Banking and Other Financial Institutions Act. Investigations revealed that the presidency intervened and the case never saw the light of the day. The money, which amounted to billions of Naira, was moved from several bank branches in bullion vans. There are no records of these transactions.
Dr. Olusola Saraki (Bukola Saraki’s father) and co-defendants were accused of using depositors’ funds to buy shares at the ailing Societe Generale Bank (Nigeria) PLC, contrary to the Banking and Other Financial Institutions Acts (BOFIA). The case never saw the light of the day. The money, which amounted to billions of Naira, was moved from several bank branches in bullion vans. There are no records of these transactions.
In one of the court cases filed by the EFCC at the Lagos Judicial Division of the Federal High Court it was alleged that Dr. Olusola Saraki, while being a Director at Societe General Bank PLC between 2002 and 2003 had recklessly approved the grant of loan in the sum of N210,000,000.00 (Two Hundred and Ten Million Naira) on no less than five different occasions to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kwara State Chapter, with no collateral. This is in contravention of Societe Generale’s regulation, and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 16(1)(a) of the Failed Bank (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act.
In one of the cases filed by the EFCC against Dr. Olusola Saraki at the Lagos Judicial Division of the Federal High Court, it was alleged that between 2002 and 2003 while working as Director at Societe Generale Bank (Nigeria) PLC, he transferred the sum of $35,000,000.00 (N7 Billion) from United Kingdom to Nigeria without reporting the transaction to the Central Bank. This contravenes Section 15(2) (a) of the Money Laundering Act.
2. Saraki’s financial crimes as Kwara state Governor:
Mr. Bukola Saraki was governor of Kwara state between May 2003 and April 2011. Among other things, he mismanaged about N65 billion which accrued to Kwara state from the federation account between April 2003 and June 2008. “The total money from Federation Account meant for the 16 Kwara local governments between April 2003 to June 2005 is about N65 billion. While Baruten, IIorin West, Offa and Oyun were supposed to be given (out of it) a sum of not less than N5 billion, N5.7 billion, N3.4 billion and N3.1billiona respectively. But after a survey by team of expert builders, economists, engineers and others, that covered the entire 16 local government council areas, it has been discovered that in each of these local governments, no serious project worth an amount of N1.5 billion took place between this period. This shows that about N40 billion meant for local governments development was diverted elsewhere and for the four local governments mentioned above, there are no traces of development that could match up to the colossal amount of the local government revenue.
Between the years 1999-2003 which happened to be the most critical period in the life of the Societe Generale Bank (Nigeria) PLC, Bukola Saraki acquired 15 luxurious cars, which included a Ferrari. He and his wife, Toyin, also purchased houses in London worth 10 million pounds. On 29 November 2001, Bukola Saraki bought a mansion in London for Four Million, Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Pounds (£4,250,000.00). The house which has deed title number NGL805616, is located at 70 Bourne Street, London SW1W 8JW. The lease hold on the property was registered on 9 January 2002 with the land registry, Harrow Office.
The above mentioned property was reportedly bought with a loan from Fortis Bank, SA-NV. The house now has a free hold. It is a story structure. The house is not far from Buckingham Palace road. Toyin Saraki, the wife had previously bought number 69 Bourne Street in 2000 for two million pounds. In 2002, the former Governor also bought Number 53 Ashley Gardens for 4 million pounds. He used a front company known as “Ashley Gardens limited.”
Apart from his U.K properties, Bukola Saraki owns several properties in Nigeria worth several millions of Naira including a N700 million house in Victoria Island fetching him N96 million rents annually. Friends and associates of the former Governor have posited that he was in the private sector when he bought his London property. He was the Vice Chairman of Societe General Bank at that time. Those who believe that while the bank was experiencing financial problems, he as an executive of the bank was acquiring a multi-million pound home, was wholly wrong.
The activities of the Transition Implementation Committee (TIC), the body that managed the local government areas in Kwara State for a while also says a lot about Governor Saraki’s leadership style. Investigation found out that in May 2003, when the Saraki led government came into office, he appointed transition committees to run the affairs of the 16 local councils. In the first six months, the most senior civil servants in the councils called Director of Personnel Management (DPM) ran the councils.
They were given a little part of council allocation to cover salaries. In the second six months, caretaker committees were appointed by the state government. They too had no access to council allocation. They were given enough to cover salaries and emoluments and N200,000 per month for running expenses. The total accrual to all the local governments for the 12 months came to N7.9 billion (N7 Billion, N843 Million and N364,000 naira).
That simply implies that the TIC hardly exhausted a quarter of their accrual. But till today, the balance has not been accounted for. A company called OlaKleen, which is owned by the Governor’s younger brother, Olaolu Saraki, is the consultant to the state’s project named “Operation Keep Kwara Clean”. Although OlaKleen is only working in the state capital, llorin, the 16 local councils are made to pay for its service, coughing out about N14 Million every month. When asked, one of the Chairmen said “In my local government, I employed my own cleaners whom I pay N5,000 in salary on a monthly basis. I had 30 cleaners, yet I was still compelled to pay N960, 000 a month to OlaKleen, when they were neither working for me nor operating in my local government.”
A 2001 law stipulated that 2.5 per cent of council allocation should go to the traditional councils. The Saraki government raised it to 4 percent. Pointing out what he called arm-twisting, a former Chairman of Edu Local Government said “My local government has three traditional rulers: Emir of Lafiagi, Emir of Saragi and Emir of Shonga. Lafiagi’s salary is N80,000, the other two N50,000 each, making it a total of N180, 000.
So if I have N70 Million allocation, 4 percent of it, about N3 million is taken from me to pay a salary of N180,000. In addition, the monthly miscellaneous expenses of these traditional rulers are the burden of the local government. If they are sick or traveling or having ceremonies, we pick the bills.” For years now, the state government has not accounted for the proceeds of this deduction from the joint account domiciled at Intercontinental Bank along Wahab Folawiyo Road, IIorin. The account number of this joint project is 0029253979001.
All the sixteen local governments were forced to pay certain amount of the net allocation accruing to them, understanding that the state will also pay a certain percentage of its allocation. It was gathered that while the local governments have been loyal to the agreement the state government is yet to fulfill its own side of the bargain. Apart from the gross deduction the 16 local governments have lost about N5b to this arm-twisting in the name of joint capital project.
The signatories to the account are the state Accountant General and the Deputy Director of Treasury, none of the local government chairmen is a signatory. It was also gathered that Chief Olusala Saraki’s close affinity with former President Obasanjo coupled with the influence wielded by Bukola Saraki in the Yar’Adua days made it impossible for the EFCC to bring either of them to book. Investigations carried out revealed that the Kwara State Governor was largely instrumental to the appointment of Mrs. Farida Waziri as the EFCC Chairman (former).
Sources in the EFCC revealed that after her retirement, Mrs. Waziri was one of those who lobbied the EFCC hierarchy to stop the investigation of the Saraki dynasty. EFCC investigators were at the time digging into how the Sarakis looted the Societe Generale Bank (Nigeria) PLC. Mrs. Waziri, who was close to several EFCC officials, used her leverage to stop further investigations and the planned prosecution of the Saraki family, including the governor whose questionable wealth in Nigeria and the United Kingdom grew bigger just as the fortunes of the family bank, in which he was the Executive Director, completely deteriorated, and finally collapsed.
What has been revealed in this document is just a tip of the iceberg. We at CUPS will continue exposing the financial and political crimes committed by this criminal gangster, until he is forced out of the Senate. Nigeria cannot afford having a Mafia kingpin as its number three citizen, while his Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, and the Vice-President, Profesor Yemi Osinbajo, are clean leaders with impeccable records on fighting corruption.
Mr. Bukola Saraki became Senate President through a socially engineered process that was manifestly corrupt and is already being prosecuted. We contend that Mr. Saraki will continue to abuse his power as Senate President to undermine the determination of his Excellency to fight corruption, which is killing Nigeria and Nigerians. Consequently, all the historic gains we secured by voting his Excellency on 28th March 2015 may come to nothing, if care is not taken. Knowing what we know, we further contend that Mr. Saraki poses a significant threat to Nigeria’s national security. He harbours a calamitous ambition to be Nigeria’s next President, come what may!
May God save Nigeria and Nigerians. Amen.
Dr. Idris Ahmed.