By Wole Adedeji, Ilorin
Ope Saraki, a cousin to the former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has been re-arraigned in court over charges of abuse of office and wrong collection of N11,180,000 public money.
He had been facing trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) since May 13, 2015 before Hon. Justice A. O Faji of the Federal High Court sitting in Ilorin.
Similarly, another aide of the former Senate President, Olatunji Moronfoye, also a Special Assistant MDG was charged for allegedly committing a procurement fraud by means of unlawful influence in the award of two contracts.
The case had suffered setbacks ever since because of incessant transfer of judges of the court until the matter came up again before Justice Mohamned Sanni who just resumed in the case at the same court.
Ope Saraki, who was Senior Special Assistant on Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to Bukola Saraki was said to have collected the money; N11,180, 000.00 from one Kunle Adimula an amount thar exceeded what an individual could collect at a time from public fund.
The Ilorin Zonal Office of the EFCC who dragged Saraki to court in its charges said he committed an offence contrary to Section 1(a) and 16(1) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 16(2) (b) of the same Act.
The contracts were the renovation of Ijagbo Primary Health Centre in Oyun Local Government and supply of medical equipment to two hospitals in Kwara State.
His alleged offence was said to contravene Section 58(4) and punishable under Section 58(5)(a) and (b) of the Public Procurement Act 2007.
The two of them pleaded not guilty to the charges read to them in court.
Counsel to EFCC, Sesan Ola in his reaction to the defendants’ pleas urged the court to fix a date for trial and remand them in the custody of the Nigeria Correctional Centre pending the trial.
However, Sulyman Abaya and Joshua Olatoke (SAN) respectively, who were counsels to presenting Ope Saraki and Olatunji Moronfoye urged the court to allow their clients continue with the earlier terms and conditions of the bail granted them by the court.
The trial judge, Justice Sani after listening to the submissions by the both counsels admitted them to bails on the terms earlier granted by the first trial judge, having found them not have breached the terms.
The Judge adjourned the case to February 16, 2022 for commencement of trial for Ope Saraki and February 22, 2022 for Olatunji Moronfoye.
Pix: Saraki, Moronfoye