by Ranti Joseph
Former governor of Kwara state, Bukola Saraki walks a free man now as a Federal High Court in Abuja has absolved him of any wrongdoing in an alleged bank loan scam being investigated by the Special Fraud Unit of the Nigerian Police since 2012.
Saraki, who is a Senator representing Kwara Central had instituted a fundamental human rights suit, urging the court to bar the Inspector General of Police or any agent of the Nigerian Police Force from arresting or interrogating him over the allegation of fraud.
On the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) website, it was stated that Saraki’s case had root in loans given to Joy Petroleum Limited, Skyview Properties Ltd, Dicetrade, and Limkers Nigeria Ltd by the defunct Intercontinental Bank under the management of Erastus Akingbola. The loans were allegedly promoted by Saraki between 2004 and 2009 when he was a governor.
The SFU said the facilities were used to purchase shares of blue chip companies and choice landed properties in Lagos and Abuja, some of which were used to secure the loans.
It was said that Akingbola’s successor, Mahmood Alabi, allegedly granted a waiver of N9.97bn, representing about 82 per cent of N11.97bn indebtedness.
Delivering judgment on Wednesday Ahmed Mohammed, the presiding judge, stopped the Inspector General of Police from inviting or arresting Saraki over the alleged bank loan scam.in the case of enforcement of fundamental human rights Saraki filed against the Police.
The relief granted Saraki by the court followed a legal opinion by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, that the allegations of wrongdoing against him were baseless and unfounded.
The legal opinion of Adoke was a response to the report submitted to him by the Inspector General of Police on Police findings in respect of Joy Petroleum Limited.
Mohammed also barred the agents of the IGP especially the operatives in the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) from harassing, intimidating and breaching the fundamental rights of the former governor and his aides.
The court held that any attempt to commence any further interrogation of the Senator which actually started since 2012 and over an issue already declared closed by the Minister of Justice, would amount to a breach of fundamental rights of Saraki
“In law, the court cannot rely on any averment that is not supported with even faint documentary evidence”.
“The failure of Police to produce in court the provisional findings submitted to the Minister of Justice and the letter of the Minister to the Police indicate that the case was not favourable to the Police,” Mohammed stated.
He held that Police ought to have stopped any further harassment of the former governor since the AGF had officially written to the Inspector General of Police to discontinue the matter.
Mohammed added that it would be unfair for Saraki to be subjected to further interrogation by Police having been cleared of any wrongdoing by the AGF in the report Police willingly submitted to the Minister.
The Court also suppressed the three letters of invitation sent by Police to Saraki for further interrogation on the case.