The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has furnished President Muhammadu Buhari with details of how the President of the Nigerian Senate, Bukola Saraki, and his aides allegedly laundered up to ₦3.5 billion from the Paris Club loan refund, PREMIUM TIMES can report.
The report, compiled by detectives in the anti-graft agency, followed months of investigation, and was submitted to the president on March 10, 2017, insiders at the presidency told this medium.
In the report, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, the EFCC narrated how Mr. Saraki, using his deputy chief of staff and other aides, laundered ₦3.5 billion that he allegedly received from the Paris Club loan refund to state governors.
The manner the Paris Club loan refund was spent by public officials has been a subject of nationwide controversy for several weeks, with EFCC hinting at some point that an investigation was underway.
But the governors pushed back against the allegations, describing the EFCC’s probe of the fund as “unwarranted attack on the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, its officials and associated entities.”
But in its report to the president, the EFCC detailed how Mr. Saraki, in 2016, introduced Gbenga Makanjuola, a former lawmaker who now serves as his deputy chief of staff, to Kathleen Erhimu, an Access Bank staff.
The EFCC identified Ms. Erhimu as Mr. Saraki’s relationship manager at Access Bank.
Mr. Makanjuola would later work with Robert Mbonu, a former managing director of Heritage Bank, whose firm, Melrose General Services Limited, was said to have served as consultant to the Nigerian Governors’ Forum.
In its March 10 correspondence, our sources said, the EFCC informed President Buhari that Mr. Mbonu received N3.5 billion in mid-December 2016, part of which was later transferred to accounts and persons linked to the senate president.
“A prima facie case of conspiracy to retain the proceeds of unlawful activities and money laundering contrary to Sections 15(3) and 18(9) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2004 can be established against the aforementioned suspects,” the EFCC told Mr. Buhari in the report.
“Additionally, investigation into their personal accounts is ongoing.”
The report could further complicate things for Mr. Saraki, who is already standing trial on separate charges of false declaration of assets since 2015.