I have done nothing illegal | Saraki responds to fresh assets declaration allegation

Senate President Bukola Saraki has been named among individuals who in nearly 50 countries have reportedly been utilising shell companies in tax havens to conceal assets and evade taxes.

According to Premium Times, Saraki was a member of the company’s board while he was governor and member of the Senate.

Saraki has been accused of establishing Tenia Limited in the Cayman Islands in 2001 and running it as director and sole shareholder until 2015.

Why it matters:

Even though he was acquitted in his false asset declaration trial, this new accusation may open doors for another litigation against the Senate President.

The fresh allegations against Saraki also contradicts Nigeria’s code of conduct law, which forbids public officials from owning discreet companies and evading taxes.

Saraki failed to list the company in his asset declaration filings as a governor and senator, thereby opening a possibility for a new asset declaration legal battle.

Saraki’s response:

Saraki’s spokesperson, Yusuph Olaniyonu in a statement on Monday said the Senate President did nothing illegal.

He said the company has never been involved in any transaction, has no asset or bank account.

“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.

“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 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.”

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