Saraki Washes Hands Off N60bn Arms Deal Scandal, To Commence Legal Action Against SaharaReporters
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday arrested the founder of Africa Independent Television (AIT), Raymond Dokpesi, and former Sokoto state Governor, Attahiru Bafarawa, in connection with the ongoing investigation into arms procurement by the office of the National Security Adviser during the immediate past administration.
An online medium had mentioned the name of Saraki as being involved in the deal but in a statement issued by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, the Senate president said that he never had anything to do with arms procurement.
Mr. Saraki emphatically stated that in his entire political career, he never served in any committee or body which had any link with defence or national security.
It said: “As a member of the Seventh Senate, Dr. Saraki was not a member of any of the committees with oversight function on the Ministry of Defence or the intelligence and national security apparatus.
“If he was tagged the leader of the opposition to the Jonathan administration, how then will he be privy to arms purchases and have the influence to blackmail any government agency or institution over the release of funds”.
The statement called the attention of Nigerians to the plot by the online medium to tarnish the reputation of Mr. Saraki, adding that the medium’s singular objective and that of its sponsors is his removal from office as the Senate president; an objective he pointed out they have since failed to achieve within and outside the National Assembly.
“This time around, SaharaReporters and its sponsors chose to drag the Senate president to this reigning and current issue of arms purchase by insinuating that he once blackmailed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to give him and other senators the sum of N250 million as a way of covering up the arbitrary withdrawal by the NSA from the security fund approved by the former president”, the statement said.
Pointing out that there was no logic in this claim, Saraki said he was persecuted by the last administration, therefore, he could not have had the influence and good standing to walk up to the Central Bank to demand for any money having exposed many atrocities of the past administration.
Furthermore, the Senate president queried the grounds on which he would blackmail anyone for N250 Million naira, stressing that he will never engage in any sharp practice or issue which will warrant him to blackmail any individual or government institution.
“Therefore for record purposes, Dr. Saraki did not collect any money from any official of the CBN in respect of any arms deal. The Senate President also challenge SaharaReporters or any official of the apex bank, Senator, serving or past, who witnessed or participated in any sharing of the alleged money purported to have been received by him, to come out with evidence.
“It should be recalled that SaharaReporters believe it can continue to disparage and defame people claiming that it is operating outside the country. The medium cannot operate above the law.
“This same medium had falsely published the data page of a forged passport it purportedly claimed belonged to Saraki. The Home Office in the United Kingdom has since written to confirm that the said passport, does not belong to the Senate President”, the statement said.
It recalled several instances in the not too distant past where the medium made several unsubstantiated claims against Mr. Saraki, among them the allegation that he once bribed some judges using a former Chief Justice of Nigeria as a front as well as allegation that he received “cash and gifts” to cover up the case of $20 billion missing NNPC funds.
“The game being played by SaharaReporters and its sponsors is clear. As they have done in previous cases involving the on-going trial of the Senate President at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, they are targeting the Appeal at the Supreme Court coming up on Thursday, December 3rd 2015. They want to prejudice the Supreme Court as they have done when they blackmailed a judge of the Federal High Court to withdraw from the case and also published false reports, which compelled the Court of Appeal to postpone its judgment at the last minute.
“Whatever the motive of SaharaReporters, it is high time we employed the instrument of the law to stop this act of impunity aimed at publishing false reports believing the victims will not go to court or be frustrated by its dubious claims that they are domiciled outside Nigeria.
“We urge all Nigerians and other well-meaning individuals across the globe to ignore this absolutely false claim by SaharaReporters.
“Like we earlier stated, this false claim shall not go unchallenged. We shall meet in court”, the statement said.
Senate President Saraki noted that SaharaReporters had been given enough latitude to indulge in its unscrupulous and mischievous method of journalism, however, he said enough is enough as the next option left for him was to commence legal action against the medium in all relevant jurisdictions, particularly on the issue of fake passport, false claim of bribery and the recent one on blackmail, all aimed at tarnishing his image.
“We need to put an end to this concerted mischief of defaming the person and good reputation of Senator Bukola Saraki. We will vigorously defend the integrity of the Senate President. We believe law and global best practices should guide these cyber-warriors. They have abused the docility of the law for too long. Enough is enough”, the statement concluded.
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