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Bukola Saraki Witness Admits His Report was Submitted After Charges Were Filed.

As the trial of the Senate President,
Dr. Bukola Saraki, for false declaration of assets when he was the
governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011 resumed monday, the
witness for the prosecution revealed that the he submitted his
investigative report, which was meant to have been used by the federal
government to arraign Saraki, well over a month after the Senate
president had already been arraigned at the Code of Conduct Tribunal
(CCT).
But the federal government at the
tribunal sitting in Abuja insisted that Saraki failed to declare some of
his landed property in the assets declaration form submitted to the
Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
During cross examination by Saraki’s
lead counsel, Mr. Kanu Agabi (SAN), a detective from the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Michael Wetkas, testifying for the
prosecution, told the tribunal that the charges against the Senate
president were filed at the tribunal one month before he submitted his
statement.
He made the revelation when he was asked
by Agabi whether he was aware that that his statement was made over one
month after the prosecution had filed its charges against the
defendant.
Wetkas who said initially that he was
not aware, was later to admit the discrepancy after he was presented
with a document showing that the charges against Saraki were filed on
September 14, 2015, while his statement was made on October 30, 2015.
Also when asked if he knew that the
usual practice was for the statement to be made before charges are
filed, the witness while claiming that he did not file the charge,
stated that the prosecution asked him to file a summary of his report of
his findings and activities during the investigation.
Wetkas also said that he was not the one
who investigated a petition by the Kwara Freedom Network neither did he
carry out a forensic investigation of the account of Kwara State when
Saraki was governor.
The petition from the network was
investigated by Team Two of the Economic Unit of EFCC, he explained,
adding that what his own team investigated was based on an intelligence
report.
The witness also told the tribunal that
he did not investigate the pension scheme of Kwara State, neither did he
know the entitlements of the defendant.
The witnesses last week told the
tribunal that Saraki received monthly salaries from the Kwara State
Government after the expiration of his tenure as governor of the state
till June 2015.
Earlier in his testimony, Wetkas
revealed that the Senate president failed to declare his property
located at Nos. 1 and 3 Targus Street, Maitama, Abuja, in the assets
declaration he made in 2007 and 2011, even though he had acquired those
properties before he became the governor of Kwara State.
The witness also told the tribunal that
although the assets declaration form provided a column for factories,
ranches, farms and enterprises, Saraki wrote in the column, “I do not
have”, whilst investigations revealed that he owned several companies.
According to Wetkas, the Senate
president has substantial and controlling shares in Skyview Property
Limited, Carlyle Property and Investment Limited, Babs Trading and
Manufacturing Limited, Delta Foods Limited, Lintas Limited, Orion-Agro
Limited, PPI Limited, Bastone Limited and Quality Packaging Limited,
among others.
He also told the tribunal that
properties at No.15A and B Mcdonald Road, Ikoyi, Lagos that were
declared by Saraki in his assets declaration form were bought in the
name of Tiny Tee Limited from the Presidential Implementation Committee
on the Sale of Federal Government Property.
The tribunal admitted 17 more exhibits as proof that Saraki owned the properties in question.
He told the court that the defendant
declared 15A and 15B as his property in the assets declaration forms but
when EFCC wrote to the presidential committee to verify the property,
they responded that from their records, the property was No 15, Mcdonald
Road, Ikoyi Lagos, and another one was Flat 1-4 Macdonald Road, Ikoyi,
Lagos.
Wetkas stated that Tiny Tee paid 75%
cost of the property, amounting to N123.75 million from the account of
Skyview Properties with Intercontinental Bank Plc, now Access Bank Plc.
He however said the presidential
committee could not provide a copy of the draft for the payment and
Access Bank too could not get a copy of the draft, but they referred the
team to the Skyview Properties Ltd account with them, where the draft
was cleared and also furnished his team with the certificate of the
account as well as opening packages for the account.
The certificate of identification,
account opening packages, and draft for the payment were tendered and
accepted as evidence in the court. He told the court that the payment
for property purchased in the name of Tiny Tee by Saraki was partly made
from Access Bank and GTB.
Among other the documents tendered
through the witness were: a GTB Plc bank draft of the sum N256.3
million, N12.8 million and another N24 million as part payment for the
property at No.17 Mcdonald Road, Ikoyi, Lagos by the defendant.
“There is another draft of N180.6
million dated April 3, 2007. We have another draft for N36.1 million
dated January 10, 2007, both as part payment of the No.17 Mcdonald Road,
Ikoyi, Lagos,” Wetkas told the tribunal.
He said even though the policy of the
presidential committee did not allow anybody to buy more than one
property, the Senate president bought three of the properties from the
committee, saying that the properties at Nos. 17 and 17A Mcdonald Road,
Ikoyi were acquired in Saraki’s personal name, while No.15, Mcdonald
Road was bought under the name of Tiny Tee.
He said investigations further revealed
that a list of properties owned by Saraki included Rukson Gardens in
Ikoyi, Lagos, which is divided into nine sub-units, with each of them
generating N7 million per annum amounting to a total income of N126
million per annum, which he also failed to declare.
Before the testimony and cross
examination of the witness, the chairman of the tribunal, Mr. Danladi
Umar, warned that he would no longer entertain excuses from counsel
deemed to unnecessarily delay proceedings, even as he declared that the
trial would henceforth be held on a daily basis in line with the spirit
of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).
Umar stated this after a request by a
representative of the defence team, Gabriel Ezegine said that the case
be stood down for one hour to enable the lead counsel join the tribunal.
He said that Jacobs had asked him to
apologise to the court on his behalf, seeking it permission for a
one-hour delay, explaining that Agabi was absent because of another case
he was handling at the Court of Appeal, which was served on him
yesterday.
The chairman who acceded to the request
following appeal from Agabi, said that he would no longer entertain any
frivolous and unnecessary excuse from any counsel, stressing the trial
would continue day-to-day without any distraction.
Umar, however, turned down the
application by Agabi asking the tribunal to provide him with the
day-to-day record of proceedings of the tribunal to enable the defence
team to thoroughly cross examine witnesses.
Umar said that the court could not
oblige the defence counsel the record of proceedings daily, as this
would be too cumbersome on the court registry. He however promised to do
so fortnightly.
Though the tribunal was scheduled to
resume sitting in the morning today, following Agabi’s appeal, Umar
adjourned proceedings to noon for continuation of cross examination of
the witness.
Meanwhile, after yesterday’s
proceedings, Saraki said in a statement by his media aide, Mr. Yusuph
Olaniyonu, that his ongoing trial at the tribunal would not disrupt the
activities of the Senate.
Saraki made this statement after Umar announced that the proceedings in the trial would now hold daily.
At the preliminary stage of the trial,
senators had always accompanied the Senate president to the tribunal
each time the case came up for hearing.
But Saraki said now that the trial
proper has commenced and the Senate was in session, he would not want
the trial to affect legislative business.
“I am the one on trial not the Senate.
Even though I have been overwhelmed by the solidarity displayed by my
colleagues, it is important that the work of the Senate is not unduly
affected by this process,” he said.
The Senate president affirmed that the
legislative body, being an institution, would not be affected by the
absence of any of the principals.
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