13 Nigerian senators face corruption probe, trial

Nigerian Senate
The Chamber of the Nigerian Senate

Less than three years into its existence, the 8th Senate has cemented itself in the sands of time – making and breaking good and bad records.

In March 2018, the chamber prided itself as the best, having passed 201 bills against 28, 25 and 65 of the 7th, 6th and 5th assemblies respectively.

On the other hand, the Senate will not be forgotten for its controversial election of principal officers, and for being the first to be invaded by thugs, who stole its mace, and one which dishes out suspension to members at the slightest offence.

Beyond these, the 8th Senate will go down memory lane as one characterised by several prosecutions.

Form the head, Senate President Bukola Saraki, to other senators, the lawmakers are known for frequenting court rooms, answering questions from anti-graft agencies and police invitations.

At least 13 of the 109 senators are currently being investigated or prosecuted.

All of them, including those facing prosecution, have denied wrongdoing.

Bukola Saraki

Until March when his trial was adjourned indefinitely, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, frequently visited the Code of Conduct Tribunal on charges of false asset declaration.

The adjournment, according to the Danladi Umar-led CCT, was to await the decision of Supreme Court on the appeal filed by Mr Saraki and the federal government’s cross-appeal in respect of the case.

A week after, the Supreme Court also adjourned indefinitely hearing on the trial, much to the delight of Mr Saraki.

In the wake of his election as the Senate President in 2015, the two-term governor of Kwara State was accused of lying about his actual assets while he governed the state.

After several appearances by Mr Saraki, the CCT in June 2017 cleared him of the charges.

In reaction, the federal government approached the Appeal Court which ruled that Mr Saraki has a case to answer in three of the 18 charges. Consequently, the government re-arraigned Mr Saraki so he could answer questions on counts 4, 5 and 6 bothering on the purchase of House 17 A and B at Mc Donald Street, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The CCT as well as the Supreme Court are yet to convene. Mr Saraki has denied any wrongdoing.

Ike Ekweremadu

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Mr Saraki and two others were at the centre of a forgery case initiated against them by some senators.

The two, including a former Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and his deputy, Benedict Efeturi, were accused of illegally altering the Senate’s Standing Rule used in electing them into office in June 2015.

The federal government, however, dropped the two-count charge against them in 2016; but Mr Ekweremadu still has something to worry about.

The federal government in March 2018 applied to the Federal High Court in Abuja for an order of temporary forfeiture of about 22 properties allegedly owned by him in Abuja, London, the United States and United Arab Emirates. Mr Ekweremadu has since said the move is politically motivated.

Dino Melaye

The Kogi West senator is also in the midst of legal battles as he is accused of providing false information to the police and supplying arms to suspected criminals.

In Abuja, he is accused of attempted suicide and damaging government property, after he allegedly attempted to jump out of a moving police vehicle. He was later hospitalised.

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory has adjourned his trial, indefinitely, on the basis of his medical condition.

Peter Nwaboshi

The Delta North senator was recently arraigned for an alleged fraud of N322 million by the EFCC. Mr Nwaoboshi was in court alongside two firms on charges bordering on conspiracy and money laundering.

The judge, Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court on April 25 ruled that the senator be remanded in prison. He got a bail two days after.

Buruji Kashamu

In May 2015, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) laid a siege to Mr Kashamu’s residence in Lagos in a bid to arrest and send him to the U.S. to face drugs charges.

Mr Kashamu is wanted to face trial in the U.S. even though he has continued to deny this.

He refused to submit himself. Instead, he approached the Federal High Court to prohibit his arrest. His prayer was granted.

On May 4 however, the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal nullified the ruling by the Federal High Court saying the senator is ”not above the law and should be arrested if there is a need,” thus clearing the path to his possible extradition.

Again, the senator fired back saying he has no extradition case in court.

Ahmed Yarima

In 2016, the Zamfara West senator was arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on a 19-count charge of corruption.

The commission accused him of diverting part of the N1 billion project funds for the repair of collapsed Gusau Dam and resettlement of the victims of flood to other purposes.

The senator was, however, discharged in December 2017 on the basis that the plaintiff has declined to prove that the ‘accused’ (Senator Yarima) had diverted the state funds.

David Mark

Former Senate President, David Mark, was questioned by the EFCC in December 2017 and again in January 2018 over receipt of illegal funds in the build-up to the 2015 elections.

He was grilled over alleged payment of N2 billion into the National Assembly account by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for distribution to senators.

Mr Mark has since denied receiving such fund but the 2015 campaign finance by the PDP has continued to be a subject of intense interrogation by law enforcement agencies.

Stella Oduah

The Anambra North senator is also on the list of senators being questioned by the EFCC for alleged money laundering.

In February, she was questioned by the EFCC and got had her passport seized.

Mrs Oduah is being investigated for allegedly awarding dubious contracts worth N9.4 billion during her stint as Aviation Minister in the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

Specifically, she was accused of diverting N3.9 billion from the N9.4 billion meant for the installation of security devices at 22 airports.

She has publicly denied the allegations.

Danjuma Goje

The chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations is currently facing a fraud charge filed against him by the EFCC at the Federal High Court in Gombe.

The senator and four others have been enmeshed in a six-year-old money laundering case preferred EFCC.

The EFCC alleged that Mr Goje, then Gombe State governor, had conspired with four officers of his administration to defraud the state of N25 billion via illegal acts, contrary to, and punishable under sections 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2011, as amended.

Abdullahi Adamu

Abdullahi Adamu, a former governor of Nasarawa State, was in 2010 arrested by the EFCC for allegedly misappropriating N15 billion alongside 18 others.

He was subsequently arraigned on a 149-count charge of fraud to the tune of N15 billion alongside his co-accused. The case is yet to be concluded

In February 2018, the EFCC arraigned Nuraini Adamu, a son of the senator, and one Felix Onyeabo Ojiako before judge, Farouq Lawal of the Kano State High Court on a four-count charge of conspiracy, forgery and obtaining money by false pretence.

Abdulaziz Nyako

The senator, representing Adamawa Central, Abdulaziz Nyako, is the son of former Governor Murtala Nyako. The senator is facing trial on N29 billion fraud charge against him by EFCC.

He is being prosecuted alongside his father, and two others on a 37-count charge of criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money-laundering.

Five companies that allegedly served as conduit pipes for the illegal diversion of the funds – Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited, were equally charged before the court as the 5th to 9th defendants.

The case is still in court.

Joshua Dariye

The Plateau Central senator has been standing trial on a 23-count charge bordering on money laundering and diversion of state ecological funds to the tune of N1.2 billion since 2007.

The allegations were levelled against him by EFCC.

In April 2018, the EFCC re-arraigned Nanle Dariye, son of Mr Dariye, on a six-count amended charge of money laundering of about N1.5 billion. He was first arraigned in February.

The anti-graft agency alleged that the defendant, sometime in 2013, failed to report a cash transaction to the tune of about N1.5 billion which he allegedly received through the hotel’s account in one of the old generation banks.

It said that the amount was above the threshold of the N10 million permissible by law adding that the hotel was also not registered as Designated Non-Financial Institution, (DNFI).

Jonah Jang

The former Plateau Governor is being prosecuted by the anti-graft agency, EFCC.

Mr Jang, who is the serving senator representing Plateau North Senatorial District, was charged alongside a former cashier in the office of the Secretary to the State Government, Yusuf Pam. They are accused of diverting N6.3 billion belonging to the Plateau State Government while serving as governor of the state.

After spending one week in jail on the order of the court, Mr Jang was granted bail last week.

The judge presiding at the Plateau State High Court, Daniel Longji, said there would be accelerated hearing of the trial which he fixed for July 17, 18 and 19.

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Kemi Busari is a senior reporter covering the Nigerian Senate for PREMIUM TIMES. He has interest in human rights and has won awards for his works, including the Hans Verploeg Award and the PwC Business reporting award. Twitter: @kemi_busari


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