From Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
Former Governor Bukola Saraki, his successor Abdulfatah Ahmed, and other former government officials named in alleged economic sabotage against the state through sales of public assets to cronies at giveaway prices should be prosecuted in court, a white paper committee has urged Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.
The Chairman of the White Paper Panel on the unlawful sales of government’s properties from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2019, Barrister Hussein Buhari, said on Thursday during the submission of the report that findings in the report were mind boggling and said nothing short of diligent prosecution, possible jail terms and recovery of many of the properties can avenge the ‘official connivances’ that led to the pilferage of the assets.
He said the former governors and many of their aides have questions to answer on how public properties and shares were sold under questionable circumstances, including on the eve of their departures from public offices.
Buhari said none of these officials honoured the invitations for them to clear the air on the deals, and said the administration should prosecute them as a matter of justice — a request the governor said has been noted for action.
‘The committee swung into action immediately it was inaugurated and went through the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry on the sales of Kwara State Government Assets between May 1999 and May 2019. There are so many rots perpetrated by the past governments especially in the
16 years before 2019.
‘For instance, the rots on Shonga Farms, Satellite Motel, and our properties in Kaduna, Abuja and Lagos were simply inconceivable. They were all sold to themselves at giveaway prices. We saw criminal conspiracies. In fact, Kwara State is now heavily indebted to some people because the past governments mismanaged our properties. I just wish Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq will have the courage and political will to implement the report so that everybody found wanting will be brought to book. And the Electoral Act is very clear that anybody who is found guilty of mismanagement of resources be banned for 10 years from holding political office. We wish the government will accept our recommendations and set up an implementation committee.
‘There are so many instances where those in government before used their positions to acquire government properties in questionable circumstances. For instance, the High Court Complex in Tanke, Ilorin they removed all the steels and allocated the land to themselves, they built hotels and eateries on government properties. All our houses in Kaduna have been sold. Today, apart from our liaison office, we do not have anything in Kaduna.
‘Government should take them to court and prosecute them for economic sabotage and, if found guilty, the government should ban them from holding political offices for 10 years.
‘Also, some ministries, Bureau of Lands, Surveying Office and many other offices had shady deals with our land in Kwara State. So, anyone involved should be sanctioned and prosecuted according to the civil service rules. Even if they have retired, they should be brought to book because the connivance was too much. Look at what happened at KWTV. They sold almost all the land at KWTV to themselves. Despite the fact that you must live certain metres away from television mast, those rules were jettisoned.
‘Also, Noktel Hotel is built right on top of aquifer which supplies water to Agba Dam, Ilorin. What we observed is unbelievable. So, for the hotel, we recommend outright demolition of it. Because they knew what they were doing. They have now blocked water from flowing to the dam.
‘Based on what we discovered, the people that were in the helms of affairs for the past 16 years connived to perpetrate evils and they were given ample opportunities to defend themselves by the judicial panel of inquiry and they refused to come. It shows they were accomplices in the whole deals.
‘Also, our shares, bonds and stocks were sold out within five weeks of their leaving office. These are worth billions of naira. Even, the Amoyo International Market in which they claimed that they bought land for over N400 million and paid about N200 million and also swapped 10 pieces of our land in Abuja for Amoyo land by Harmony Holdings Limited. Personally, Bayo Sanni and Tope Daramola need to be brought to book on the issue.
‘On Kwara Mall, it is sad that Kwara State Government put down the sum of N500m, gave land and C of O over the land and they used the C of O to collect another loan in a bank worth N500m and brought nothing to the Kwara State Government. In fact, the sharing formula is 70 per cent to 30percent. That is, 30 per cent to the state government that put down everything.
‘On Shonga Farms, you brought 13 farmers and you gave them land and huge money in foreign currency and yet nothing was remitted to the state government. They did not stop at that. They mortgaged the same land and collected money from different banks. We also found out that most of the government officials that involved in all these are deliberately working against the government of the day for selfish reasons. It is impunity. They are working for their pay masters, and not the citizens of Kwara State.’