Saraki Hails Supreme Court’s Verdict, Says Melrose Received No Illegal Fund from Governors’ Forum

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

Former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki has hailed the Supreme Court’s judgement, which overturned the Federal High Court’s 2018 decision regarding an alleged N3.5 billion fraud case against Melrose General Services Limited.

Saraki said the judgment had vindicated his earlier stance that the case was politically-motivated and a veiled attempt to witch-hunt him because he emerged as President of the Senate against the wishes of certain forces during former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The former Senate President stated this at the weekend in a statement signed by his Head of Media, Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu, and made available to journalists in Abuja after the Supreme Court’s judgment.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on April 27, 2018, secured judgment for the final forfeiture of N1.4 billion, which it claimed a firm, Melrose General Services Limited, obtained from the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) through false claims.
Melrose was allegedly linked to the then Senate President, Saraki, who was facing a political battle with some highly placed personalities within the Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) government.

Dissatisfied with the verdict of Justice Cecilia Olatoregun, and the Court of Appeal, which in May 2019, resolved the four contentious issues in favour of the EFCC, Melrose General Services approached the Supreme Court for redress, asking it to set aside the pronouncement of the lower courts.
Delivering the judgment on Friday, June 7, the Supreme Court panel led by Justice Akomaye Agim (SC 1519/2019) set aside the judgments of the lower courts and ruled in favour of the appellant, Melrose General Services.

Reacting to the judgment on his handle on the social media platform, X, Saraki said the ruling had revealed the truth and affirms his earlier position of innocence.
The former chairman of the NGF stated that the legal suit was a proxy war, aimed at persecuting him, undermining his political career, and tarnishing his reputation.
 “As much as this case was between the EFCC and Melrose General Services Limited, it was a proxy war, with Melrose serving as a mere pawn in a larger scheme to victimise and persecute me. It was always clear that this case was a thinly veiled attempt by the Buhari’s administration to weaponise the legal system for political gain.

 “The allegations of ‘Paris Club Fraud’ were nothing more than a smokescreen designed to weaken the institution of my office, undermine my political career, and tarnish my reputation through spurious accusations similar to the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), which also acquitted me of all charges.
 “As I said in my first appearance at the CCT, this is a politically motivated case. The case was trumped up in the first instance because I emerged as the President of the Senate against the wishes of certain forces.

 “The fact that this case was even brought to court, based on dubious evidence and procedural irregularities, is proof of the length that some people will go to manipulate the legal system for political gain. It was a disservice to the Nigerian people and a waste of our limited but valuable judicial resources,” Saraki said.
 The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain lauded the judiciary for ensuring that justice prevailed, and charged all to be inspired by the verdict in the fight against corruption and abuse of power for the promotion of Nigeria’s democracy.

“I am profoundly grateful to the Almighty Allah, the ultimate arbiter of justice, for guiding the Supreme Court to this righteous verdict. I applaud the judiciary for their meticulous examination of the evidence and adherence to due process, which has ensured that justice prevailed. I also thank Melrose’s legal team for their tireless efforts in bringing this case to a just conclusion.
“Moving forward, we all have to canvas for fairness in the fight against corruption. We should see this verdict as an inspiration to champion the rule of law, promote democracy and its institutions, and tolerate divergent views,” Saraki added.

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