In what is inarguably the most desperate but controversial means of political survival ever indulged in by any known Kwara politician dead or alive, Sen. Bukola Saraki has placed well over 50 Islamic clerics, majorly of Ilorin extraction on a monthly handouts ranging between N20,000.00 and N50,000.00, E-KWARA can authoritatively report.
In a document said to be the comprehensive list of Ilorin clerics being induced by Mr. Saraki, and which document was exclusively made available to E-KWARA by a source who craved anonymity for security reasons, E-KWARA observed that the clerics are grouped into two grades, categories A and B. The A category comprises of sixteen senior clerics drawn heavily from Ilorin while the second category contains forty two ‘junior’ Islamic clerics also majorly drawn from Ilorin and environs.
While the sixteen clerics in the first (A) category get Fifty Thousand Naira (N50,000.00) monthly, others in the category ‘B’ get a sum of Twenty Thousand Naira (N20,000.00) monthly.
A careful perusal of the pay roll indicated that the monthly stipend, which payment started in January, shortly after the demise of Mr. Bukola’s father and Turaki of Ilorin, Dr. Olusola Saraki, is paid on or before the 2nd day of every month, with a provision for a written acknowledgement of receipt of the cash gift by each of the beneficiaries.
Prominent on the ‘first class’ category are the Chief Imam of Ilorin, Sheik Mohammed Basir, Grand Mukadam of Ilorin, Sheik Suleiman Dan Bornu, Alfa Okuta Gidi, Sheik Abdrazaq Aduagba, Uztaz Muktar Onikuukewu, Uztaz Usman Oladimeji (Sanu Sheu), Sheik Buhari Adelodun (Omo Musa), Imam Imale, Imam Gambari and Imam Fulani all in Ilorin and a host of others.
In the ‘B’ category are Alhaji Bansola Yusuf (kokewu Kobere), Makadam Suleiman Alata, Makadam Oloro, Sheik Temim, Alhaji Suleiman Oloruntoogun, Alfa Aduagba (a clownish retired Islamic teacher who is based in Oke-suna area of Ilorin East LGA), Sheik Abdullahi Tunjina, Uztaz Hassan Cisse Gbodufu, Alfa Abdulganiy Gbagba, Uztaz Abdulhakeem Okesuna, Khalifa Yahaya Oloruntoyin, Uztaz Nairudeen Solaty, Uztaz Dayo Orioko, Imam Idi opopo, Uztaz Yahaya, Uztaz Faruq Babatunde, Uztaz Taiye and Kehinde Agbaji, Alfa Olayinka Itadu, etcetera.
E-KWARA observed that virtually all the sixteen clerics in the category ‘A’ promptly receive their monthly handouts and endorse an acknowledgement of receipt on a specially packaged sheet of paper containing their names, the amount collected and date collected. But the case is not the same with the ‘B’ category where almost a quarter of the list refused to redeem their dole-outs as far back as February.
It will be recalled that the Grand Mukadam of Ilorin, Sheikh Sulaiman Dan Bornu, recently cried out over what he termed ‘the unabated financial inducement of clerics by politicians in Ilorin’.
The referred Islamic scholar made this lamentation while delivering a lecture at the eight day prayer (Fidau) for the retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Saidu Kawu, who died in Ilorin on Wednesday last week at the age of 85.
He therefore urged clerics not to allow politicians to buy over their souls for a pot of porridge, since according to him, the clerics are supposed to be the conscience of the community.
But what is curious about Mr. Dan Bornu’s shocking revelation is not the fact of his revealing it but the ironic fact that his own name is number ‘3’ on the category ‘A’ list compiled by Mr. Bukola Saraki, just after that of the Chief Imam of Ilorin. It is even more curious considering the fact that Mr. Dan Bornu reportedly recently received a cream colour Siena XLE 2003 Model from Hon. Ali Ahmad, member representing Ilorin East and South federal constituency. Mr. Dan Bornu, like other clerics from within Hon. Ali’s constituency, got car and cash gifts under the guise of ‘empowerment’ in the latter’s just concluded ‘empowerment scheme’. This is in spite of muted bitter complaints against such gesture by local politicians who insisted that there are party men and women in Ilorin south, who are far poorer than Mr. Dan Bornu.
It will also be recalled that some traditional rulers in the state, under the auspices of Ilorin Emirate Magajis and Alanguas Forum recently pledged their ‘unalloyed loyalty to the political leadership of Dr. Bukola Saraki. The Forum, reportedly comprising of about 350 Magajsi, Alanguas stated this during a press conference addressed by Magagi Nda of Ilorin, Alhaji Soliu Woru.
The statement reads in part;
“We, the undersigned traditional chiefs appointed by His Royal Highness, the Emir of Ilorin, from the various districts, wards, towns and villages of Ilorin Emirate in Ilorin West, East, South, Asa and Moro local government areas in Kwara State, having painstakingly deliberated extensively on the new political development in Nigeria….and having held necessary consultations with our large people, we have unanimously pledge our loyalty to the political leadership of Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed…”
However, when E-KWARA confronted one of the beneficiaries of Mr. Saraki’s unusual largesse, he was sort of confirming this report. The cleric, who pleaded not to be named, admitted that he had been on Mr. Saraki’s payroll since early last year. He revealed that he is usually alerted to the payment by Uztaz Uthman Oladimeji (Sanu Sheu), who sources say is the middleman between Mr. Saraki and the Alfas.
“Normally, they pay into Sanu Sheu’s bank account every month end. He in turn alerts the clerics to the payment and the need to gather as usual for the collection.” Our source said.
When prodded further on the venue of the cash collection and what transpires there, our source though declined to name the nocturnal meeting point but revealed that they are made to recite a complete Quran and invoke selected verses of the Quran for the ‘protection of Bukola’s political career’.
Our source also revealed that at the end of every prayer session each month, there is usually a black ram sacrifice, which is then followed by the dolling out of the cash handouts to the clerics.
While lamenting the inclusion of his name on the list, another cleric, who also preferred anonymity for security reasons, revealed that the majority of those on the list were ‘lured’ into believing that the sole purpose of the monthly cash handout was to pray for the continued reposition of the soul of Dr. Olusola Saraki.
‘The initial joker was that the prayer was going to be made in memory of late Baba Saraki, and that Bukola Saraki was not out to play politics with us or shutting us out of our occasional criticism of the government when the need arises, but what is currently playing out is a far cry from the initial commitment. Sincerely, we hardly commit as much spiritual energy to the reposition of Baba’s soul as much as we do to Bukola’s political survival.”
Continuing, our source said that they are usually instructed to pray fervently against Mr. Saraki’s ‘political enemies within and outside the state, and since we are supposed to go home with cash after the prayer, we are obliged to invoke the Quranic incantations against all known and unknown nemesis of Bukola’.
When E-KWARA put a call across to Uztaz Sanu Sheu, the call was returned unanswered. But an automated voice responded that the number was ‘out of reach’. When E-KWARA prodded further from sources close to him, it was disclosed that he has since last week travelled to Benin Republic on a private visit.
A similar scenario played out in the case of Uztaz Abdulrasaq Aduagba, another very close ally of Mr. Bukola Saraki, although there is no evidence that he too has travelled out of Nigeria.
In a chat with our correspondent on the issue, an Ilorin based Islamic cleric and public affairs analyst, Sheik Ahmad Abdullahi bemoaned the ‘unholy hobnobbing of Alfas and traditional rulers with the political class in the state.’ In his words, Sheik Abdullah said, ‘if they are not bribing you with rams and foodstuffs, they are inducing with raw cash. And if you are the kind that lacks self restraint as required by Prophet Mohammed, then you stand the risk of falling prey to their antics, which is essentially aimed at gagging you from talking truth to power’.
Clerics, especially those from Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, have come under severe criticism from within and outside the town for cheaply selling out themselves to the ruling elite in the state. A controversial Islamic cleric, Sheik Jabata recently came down heavily on those clerics he tagged ‘hungry, food-is-ready Alfas, who have sold their souls to the devils just for worldly things’.
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