ABUJA – Nigerian Senate President Bukola Saraki has denied all allegation against him regarding false declaration of asset, saying that he earned his wealth through hard work.
It is not a “crime anywhere for you to either work hard or be blessed,” Saraki said in a recent interview.
The reaction was directed at allegations that the Senate President and former Kwara State Governor falsified his asset declaration. He is standing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal for a 13-count charge of false declaration of assets while he was the governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2007.
He said: “As I have said many times on this case, I will prove my innocence. These were forms that were declared over 13 years ago, and it only emerged in August after I became Senate President. If there were infractions in those forms the Code of Conduct could have raised those items a long time ago; they didn’t. So I said I am confident that I will clear my name and I don’t believe that I have done anything wrong.”
The embattled sSenate President is also facing another trial alongside Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu; former Clerk of the National Asembly, Salisu Maikasuwa; and his deputy, Benedict Efeturi, for their elections as leaders of the Senate for an alleged forgery of senate standing rules during their elections into their various positions in the Senate in June 2015.
Last year, the Code of Conduct Tribunal commenced hearing on a 13- count charge of alleged corruption against him.
However, he dismissed such allegations and was quoted by local media as saying: “Those behind this plot will definitely meet Dr. Saraki in court as this case, which is based on outright fabrication and mischief, will not and cannot stand the test of justice.”
The Code of Conduct Bureau is a federal anti-corruption agency that checks corrupt practices in the Nigerian public service.
Every public officer is required to submit a written declaration of all his or her properties, assets and liabilities to the anti-corruption bureau.
Reacting to question about the sources of his wealth he said: “I come from a blessed family. I come from a family where my parents were opportuned and after that I worked hard in the private sector and I think I have worked hard for everything that I have. I made 95% of my asset before I joined government.”
Saraki, however, said he doesn’t know the worth of his wealth. “I can’t remember these figures,” he said.
The revelation from the internal data of the Panama-based offshore-provider, Mossack Fonseca, also uncovered that at least four assets of the family of Saraki secretly hidden in offshore territories.
Saraki in reaction to the Panama papers said: “The issue was that they found out that the company has been set up; but it was a holding company; which had nothing to do with taxes, nothing at all.”
He said that the family’s decision to invest in the tax haven was in sync with the legal advice received and as such he argued that his decision was very legal.
“To the best of our knowledge, no law was broken,” he said.
– Orji Sunday, Correspondent (Africa)