By Dare Ibrahim
A former Senior Special Assistant to the Kwara State Governor on Sustainable Development Goals, Ope Saraki was on March 24, 2020 arraigned before Justice Babangana Ashigar of a Federal High Court sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State.
Tony Orilade, acting head, media & publicity for the anti-graft agency stated Tuesday that Saraki, a cousin to the immediate past Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki is facing charges for money laundering.
The charge reads: “That you, Ope Saraki, sometime in February 2019, whilst being the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Kwara State on Sustainable Development Goals at Ilorin within the jurisdiction of this honourable Court, did receive cash payment of N11,180,000.00 (Eleven Million, One Hundred and Eighty Thousand Naira) from one Kunle Adimula, an employee of Kwara State Government, which sum exceeded the cash payable to an individual and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 and 16 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 16 of the same Act.”
Prosecuting counsel, Sesan Ola, prayed the court for a date for trial to commence “in order to enable the prosecution call its witnesses and prove our case”.
Lead defence counsel, Dr. Joshua Olatoke, SAN, urged the Court “to use your discretion to grant bail to the defendant pending the hearing and final determination of this case”.
“I want my lord to take judicial notice of the present challenges of coronavirus that is confronting the country, it is only the living that can stand trial my lord, that is why I want your lordship to use your discretion and grant bail to the defendant,” he said.
Ruling on the application, Justice Ashigar granted bail to the defendant in the sum of N10 million naira with two sureties in like sum.
He ordered that one of the sureties must reside in the jurisdiction of the Court, adding that Saraki should submit his travel documents to the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court.
The Judge said Saraki should remain in the custody of the EFCC till he perfects his bail conditions.
Further hearing in the case has been adjourned untill May 15, 2020.