Something is not adding up over the arrest and detention of former Senate Committee Chairman on Local and Foreign Debt and Human rights activist, Senator Shehu Sani, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) following allegations of extortion and financial crimes, writes Kingsley Nwezeh
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday, arrested Senator Shehu Sani following allegations of extortion, financial crimes and misrepresentation.
Sani, a vocal Senator and member of the 8th Assembly, represented Kaduna Central Senatorial District of Kaduna State. He was before his election into the Senate a notable human rights activist.
The anti-graft agency specifically accused him of collecting $10,000 from a popular car dealer in Abuja and owner of ASD Motors, Alhaji Sani Daura. He was said to have allegedly collected the said amount from the ASD Motors boss on the grounds that he was very close to the EFCC boss, promising to leverage his relationship to clear a case he has with the commission.
“Upon filing a report at the commission, Sani was subsequently arrested and granted administrative bail while the said $10,000 was recovered from him. He was asked to report back but made himself incommunicado”, a source close to the investigation said.
The EFCC operatives quizzed him over the allegations of scamming some people and allegedly dropping the name of the EFCC boss before suspects, who have cases with the commission. The senator was said to have told the complainant that he would resolve his case with the EFCC.
He was said to have told the complainant that he discussed with the investigators, who claimed that only the EFCC boss could resolve the matter.
The car, dealer, according to EFCC, alleged that the senator told him he was close to Magu and allegedly demanded $20,000 to pass to Magu in order to resolve the issue.
“The complainant stated that he could only provide $10,000 and thereafter proceeded to write a cheque covering the amount. The cheque was allegedly presented to a Bureau De Change operator who allegedly gave the $10,000 equivalent to the senator to settle the matter with the EFCC.
A source close to the investigation told THISDAY that Senator Sani would spend the New Year in EFCC’s custody as the complainant is expected to take up issues with him on Thursday, January 2, 2020.
In furtherance of the investigation, the agency, Thursday, obtained a court order to detain Senator Sani for 14 days to enable it conclude its investigation.
There were also allegations by the complainant that Shehu Sani dropped the name of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), asking him to pay N4 million which the CJN was expected to pass four judges who are to ensure that the case by a certain Abubakar against the ASD boss did not see the light of the day.
The complainant further alleged that the senator demanded another N1 million for the EFFC officials and later came back on November 29, 2019, saying the prosecutor in his case could not do anything about it but he had discussed with the EFCC boss, who asked him to bring $20,000 to resolve the case.
So far, there’s no official statement from Senator Shehu Sani or his lawyers explaining his own side of the story. There was also no mention of the details of the case the extortion allegation was centered around.
One of the tweets on his twitter handle, @ShehuSani, posted December 31, 2019 was about the outgoing year.
“We bid farewell to a turbulent and violent decade for our country with the eternal memory and glorious tribute to those men and women who lost their lives or liberty in those tragic moments in the North East and other places. We move with hope for a more peaceful future ahead”, he tweeted.
The vocal former senator, who styles himself as “a dedicated fighter for freedom and justice” is also known to have had brushes with Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, before the last general election and has remained critical of his government.
At home, in his turf as a human rights activist, he has also been very critical of some policies of the federal government. The Kaduna governor recently mocked the Senator, saying he was unemployable. He said Sani was not qualified to be employed as a desk officer in Kaduna State civil service.
The governor had reacted to a twitter user @SaifuBawa, who asked him to start paying the senator salary so he could purchase some sense, after Sani said states taht fail to pay the minimum wage in accordance with the template of the minimum wage act were perpetrating fraud.
According to his Tweets, Sani observed that: “Any payment of minimum wage by any state not in accordance with the template of the new minimum wage act is simply a fraud. Selective, manipulative and dubious payment is simply a deceit. Confirm full compliance from the NLC & the TUC first. Not from politicians.”
Recently, Sani, who was the former chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt in the 8th National Assembly, rationalised the rejection of President Muhammadu Buhari’s $29.96bn loan request in 2018.
“We turned down the federal government’s loan request of $29.96bn to save Nigeria from sinking into the dark gully of a perpetual debt trap.”
Sani, in a statement, reportedly maintained that, “We don’t want our country to be recolonised by creditor banks.” He said Nigeria’s external debt in 2015 stood at $10.32bn before President Buhari’s assumption of office.
Senator Sani, who is now the Director, African Centre for Peace and Development, said the figure rose to $22.08bn in the second quarter of 2019, representing a 114 per cent increase.
“If we had approved that loan request, our external debt could have catapulted to over $52bn and that is not sustainable. With the current escalation of borrowing, we will be walking into debt slavery and move from landlords to tenants in our own country.
“They will always tell you that even America is borrowing and I don’t know how rational it is to keep on borrowing, because another country is borrowing. If we keep listening to bankers and contractors, we will keep borrowing and burying ourselves and leave behind for our children a legacy of debt burden.
“Loans are not charities. Most of those encouraging more borrowing are parasitic consultants, commission agents, rent-seeking fronts and contractors.”