#ParadisePapers: Saraki claims he violated no law

Bukola Saraki
Bukola Saraki [Photo: Nigerian Pilot]

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has said he did not violate any Nigerian law in establishing Tenia Limited, a company operating in tax havens.

The Senate President in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuf Olaniyonu, said the company operated ‘no bank account ‘ and ‘had been a dormant entity’ since creation.

He said the company has never been used for any cash transaction, had no asset, hence, he (Saraki) cannot be held for violating any law.

Mr. Saraki was responding to a PREMIUM TIMES report which showed how he violated the code of conduct for officials in the registration and operation of Tenia Limited.

The report followed a leaked data obtained by German newspaper, Suddeutsche Zeitung, and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) now dubbed Paradise Papers.

Nigeria’s code of conduct mandates a public officer to complete the assets declaration form, have it sworn-to before a High Court Judge and return to the code of conduct bureau on a date not exceeding 30 days of the receipt of the form.

However, data from the Paradise papers showed that Mr. Saraki set up Tenia Limited in the Cayman Islands —a notorious tax haven in the Caribbean— in 2001, and ran it until at least 2015 as director and sole shareholder.

He failed to list the firm in his asset declaration filings when he was elected governor of Kwara in 2003, in defiance of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.

He also didn’t list the company when he was re-elected governor in 2007 and when he was elected senator in 2011, PREMIUM TIMES report observed.

In a swift reaction on Monday, the Senate President claimed that he did nothing illegal in establishing the company but did not claim that he declared Tenia Limited in his assets declaration form.

The statement reads: “Once again, the issue of offshore company registration, which was first raised in 2016 is being revived and thrown to the public space. As a responsible public officer, Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, will continue to explain his position. We know this is the period of politics when mudslinging is a common trick in the game.

“However, we will like to make it known that Dr. Saraki violated no law and did nothing illegal in the course of registering the company under reference, Tenia Limited, and afterwards.

“As we had earlier explained when the issue was first brought into public view, the company in question, Tenia Limited, was incorporated in 2001, long before Dr. Saraki ventured into politics and was elected into public office.

“The company from incorporation to date had never been used for any transaction. It held no asset. It had no bank account to the best of the knowledge of Dr. Saraki. Even if it did, the Senate President was not a signatory to such account. This is just a paper company and therefore could not have been used to hide any asset.”

Mr. Olaniyonu then suggested that Mr. Saraki forgot about the existence of the company, a possible reason he did not declare it in his assets form as required by law.

“The company, unlike the other ones investigated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), had been a dormant entity from creation such that when in late 2015, its existence was raised with the Senate President, he could not readily recollect that there was such a company linked to him,” he said.

“He then immediately directed that the company be struck off.

“For the umpteenth time, we will reiterate the fact that the Senate President has fully complied with the law on assets declaration, even as it concerns the company under reference.”

The leaked 1.4 terabyte data, has for up to a year, been under review by 380 journalists from 96 media organisations in 67 countries which cover a period of nearly 70 years, from 1950 to 2016.

PREMIUM TIMES is the only Nigerian media organisation involved in the investigation.


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  • O.O. Williams

    Premium Times Editor,

    Is this a sensible justification from a supposed Senate president? Of course not, it is illiterate.
    An asset need not be active to be declared under the Code of Conduct Law or is amnesia
    an alibi for failure to disclose an asset in which Bukola Saraki is the sole owner and director.
    Or could it mean that Bukola Saraki doesn’t know the meaning of the word ASSET? Maybe.

    • Opekete

      Amnesia, especially when it is deliberately selective could be used as an alibi in lieu of breaking the law. Saraki has no shame.

  • Dawood

    The guy is the face of Nigerian thievery and corruption. Unfortunately, as long as there are Judge Umarrs in our judicial system, he’ll skate.

  • Sam. A

    In a corrupt Legislative arm of government , and a morally bankrupt judiciary , there is no law to be violated ,because there is no judge to apply it . In a saner climes Saraki would have been indicted like Paul Manafort for money laundering, he will be locked up or with ankle monitor.

  • princegab

    All the secret vaults of the world are over flooded with money looted from naija’s treasury. Good job, oga Saraki, keep on amassing.

  • thusspokez

    The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has said he did not violate any Nigerian law in establishing Tenia Limited, a company operating in tax havens.

    People like Saraki who persists in committing criminal offences usually have a psychiatric disorder.

  • thusspokez

    …statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuf Olaniyonu…

    Mr Yusuf Olaniyonu should realise that he is a special adviser to the Senate president. Now, this issue is Saraki’s private affairs, and nothing to do in his capacity as Senate president, therefore it is a gross abuse of office to use Yusuf Olaniyonu as spokesperson on this unofficial private matter. Just as hSaraki as private lawyers, he should use his private spokesperson for all his private affairs.

  • Timothy

    Smart move…company is dormant here…has done no business here…but is doing business abroad therefore is not liable to pay any tax here but abroad….very clever.

  • Baba B

    Where’s the washer man Tijani who has been trying so hard to wash this very dirty person called Saraki clean. I have told him that we are waiting patiently for the day he will rear his ugly corruption infested head that he wants to run for presidency.