The immediate past governor of Kwara State and senator representing Kwara Central at the National Assembly, Senator Bukola Saraki, has denied any wrong doing in the case being investigated by the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the police.
In a statement issued in Ilorin Thursday by his Special Assistant on Media and Advocacy, Mr. Bamikole Omishore, Saraki said he has business interests in Linkers, Skyview and Dicetrade – the companies that are being investigate – but upon becoming governor in 2003, he disengaged from running these companies while retaining his interests in them.
During the period that major banks in the country were offering margin loans to individuals and companies, these companies approached Intercontinental Bank for a facility to buy shares in blue chip companies, he said.
This was at the time the Nigerian Stock Market was doing very well and hundreds of Nigerians were investing in it and making reasonable profits. These transactions were open and followed the due processes stipulated by laws, he added.
Saraki recalled that before he contested for the presidential election of his party, PDP, he was cleared of these same allegations by the appropriate authorities before he was allowed to run.
He denied that the loans were collateralised with choice properties, saying that the standard practice then was that the shares so purchased were the security for any loan facility received.
The statement also pointed out that the transaction in question was for a loan indebtedness, which was for N8.9 billion, adding that after negotiations, which went through Management, Bank Credit Committee and the Board approval was given that the companies should repay a total of N4.1 billion.
His companies, he said, were not the only beneficiaries of that approval as similar waivers were given to about 30 other companies by the Board about the same time.
“It is noteworthy to mention that the negotiations which took several months were first with Erastus Akingbola-led management and later with the Lai Alabi-led management of the bank and a mutually agreed resolution was reached.
“Since the conclusion of that negotiated agreement, neither Intercontinental Bank nor the CBN who is the regulatory body by virtue of institutions for regularities of loans, had complained or found any act of wrong doing on the part of all the parties to the transactions. During the time this loan was being granted, majority of the banks in the country were undertaking similar processes.
“It is all the more baffling, to say the least, that whereas the parties to these transactions, which included the CBN, did not raise any complaint, and whereas there is in fact no money lost by anyone, that this matter has now become a case of fraud to be investigated by the SFU,” the statement added.
The statement also claimed that Saraki, before seeking the court intervention to clarify the basis on which SFU invited him to assist them in a matter he knows nothing about, had earlier established a dialogue with the police.
Saraki said afterwards, he observed that SFU “had widely by way of press briefings from the media team of SFU falsely depicted [Saraki] as being in contravention of the laws of the land”.
He described as unfair, attempts in the media to insinuate that his former aide, late Matthew Obahor, who died of complications from diabetes after years of receiving treatment from hospitals in Nigeria and abroad, was murdered as a result of a supposed whistle-blowing.