The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday arraigned a former Special Adviser to the Kwara State Governor on Millennium Development Goals, Ope Saraki, who is also a cousin to Senate President Bukola Saraki for an alleged N371m scam.
The EFCC said in a statement by its spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, that a former Commissioner for Information, Olatunji Moronfoye, was also arraigned before Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of a Federal High Court sitting in Ilorin for offences bordering on abuse of office, diversion of public funds and money laundering.
While Moronfoye served as commissioner under Saraki when he was the governor of Kwara State, Ope served under the current Governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed.
Moronfoye and Saraki, who were first arraigned on May 13, 2015, had to re-enter their plea on Tuesday following the transfer of the former trial judge, Justice A. O. Faji.
According to the anti-graft agency, Moronfoye, while being the Special Adviser to former Governor Saraki (now Senate President) allegedly used his position to enrich himself.
The EFCC alleged that Moronfoye awarded contracts to the tune of N200m for the renovation of Ijagbo Primary Health Centre and specialist hospitals within the state to a company in which he had interests and was the sole signatory to its account.
It said Ope allegedly abused his office and laundered state funds for his personal benefit by awarding inflated contracts to companies owned by his cronies.
The commission said in one of the transactions involving the purchase of buses for the state, Ope fraudulently procured 13 Hiace buses from a “local car dealer” and converted the vehicle to an ambulance instead of a factory-built ambulance for which a contract of N171, 990, 000 was awarded to Chemiroy Nigeria Limited.
One of the charges read in part, “That you, Ope Saraki, being the Special Adviser on Millennium Development Goals to Governor of Kwara State sometime in 2012 at Ilorin within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did by undue interest conducted procurement fraud in the procurement of 13 units of ambulance for 13 General Specialists Hospitals in Kwara State at the sum of N171,990, 000, a contract awarded to Chemiroy Nigeria Limited and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 58 (4) (b) of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and punishable under Section 58 (5) 0f the same Act.”
Moronfoye and Saraki pleaded not guilty to the three and five counts preferred against them respectively.
In view of their pleas, counsel for the EFCC, Joseph Uzor, urged the court for a date to commence trial.