By Adeniyi Adedeji, Ilorin
Cousin of the immediate past President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Ope Saraki, has been dragged to court for the second time by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Saraki, former Senior Special Assistant, SSA to immediate past Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, Bukola Saraki godson, on Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs.
He had earlier on on Tuesday March 24, 2020 been arraigned for money laundering by the Ilorin Zonal Office of the EFCC, to the tune of over N200 million, before a Federal High Court sitting in Ilorin, and presided over by Justice Babangana Ashigar, on a one count charge of money laundering.
The EFCC alleged that the Ope Saraki received the sum of N11 million from one Kunle Adimula, while serving as Senior Special Assistant to the governor of Kwara State, which is contrary to the Money Laundering Prohibition Act of 2011.
The charge had read that Ope Saraki, sometime in February 2019, while in office as a government Senior Special Assistant, received cash of N11, 180,000.00 payment of from one Kunle Adimula, an employee of Kwara State government.
The sum was said to exceed the cash payable to an individual and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1 and 16 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 16 of the same Act.
Saraki pleaded not guilty to the charge brought against him, prompting the prosecution counsel, Sesan Ola, to ask the court “for trial date to enable the prosecution call its witnesses and prove our case against the accused person.”
While not objecting to the position of theprosecution, the defence lawyers, led by Dr Joshua Olatoke, SAN, but pleaded with the presiding judge “to use your discretion to grant bail to the defendant, pending the hearing and final determination of this case.”
Olatoke added, “I want my Lord to take judicial notice of the present challenges of Coronavirus that is confronting the country, it is only the living that can stand trial my Lord, that is why I want your Lordship to use your discretion and grant bail to the defendant.”
Ruling on the application for bail, Justice Ashigar granted bail to the defendant in the sum of N10 million with two sureties in like sum.
He also ordered that one of the sureties must reside in the jurisdiction of the court, adding that Saraki should submit his travel documents to the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court.
The judge also ordered that Saraki should remain in the custody of the EFCC till he perfects his bail conditions, while further hearing in the case has been adjourned till 15th of May 2020.