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Saraki trial hots up

  • Trial will now hold every day, tribunal will not wait for    anybody – CCT Chairman
  • Trial will not affect Senate sitting, says Prosecution counsel
  • Saraki bought three landed property, instead of one, from presidential committee – Witness
  • Witness admits not investigating Kwara State Pension    Scheme, knowing Saraki’s entitlements

 

The ongoing trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, by the Code of Conduct Tribunal for false asset declaration on Monday became intense as the chairman of the tribunal Danladi Yakubu Umar ruled that the trial will now hold every day.

Umar made the statement while scolding Gabriel Esegine, counsel to the federal government, who held brief for Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), the lead prosecution counsel in the trial.

Esegine had asked the tribunal to stand down the matter for an hour so that Jacobs, who was at the appeal court, could continue it when he returns.

But Umar was displeased, and he wondered why Jacobs would be absent from such a sensitive case.

“This tribunal will not wait for anybody,” he said.

“According to the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, trials are to commence from day to day. And that’s what will happen now from 10am to 6pm.”

However, Umar stood down the matter to 12pm.

Later,

Prosecution counsel Rotimi Jacob (SAN) told the tribunal that it was a shame for senate to suspend sitting because Saraki was attending to his trial.

Rotimi, who was responding to a plea by Saraki’s lawyer, Mr Kanu Agabi (SAN) to the Tribunal to space the trial date instead of daily sitting, said that Senate was not on trial but Saraki.

He urged members of the Senate majority of whom had always accompanied Saraki to the tribunal to refrain from that shameful act and attend to their national duty by sitting without Saraki.

Meanwhile a  detective with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Michael Wetkas on Monday told the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) that Senate President Bukola Saraki violated the Code of conduct when he failed to declare some of his landed property.

The detective who testified  as a prosecution witness  over false assets declaration told that Saraki failed to declare his property located at No 1 and No 3, Targus Street, Maitama, Abuja in the assets declaration he made in 2007 and 2011, even though he has acquired those property before he became governor of Kwara State.

The witness also told the Tribunal that although the assets declaration form provides a column for factories, ranches, farms and enterprises, Saraki wrote in the column that, “I do not have”, while investigation revealed that he has several companies.

According to Wetkas, the Senate President has substantial and controlling shares in Skyview Property Limited, Carlie Property and Investment Limited, Babs Trading and Manufacturing Limited, Delta Foods Limited, Lintas Limited, Orion-Agro Limited, PPI Limited, Bastone Limited, Quality Packaging Limited among others.

He told the Tribunal also that property on No. 15 A and B. Mcdonald, Ikoyi Lagos that were declared by Senate Saraki in his his assets declaration form were bought in the name of Cerlie Property and Investment Limited from the Presidential Implementation Committee on the Sales of Federal Government Property.

The Tribunal admitted17 more exhibits as proof that Saraki owned the property in question.

Among the document tendred through the witness by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) include GTB Plc bank draft of the sum N256.3 million, N12.8 million and another N24 million as part payment for property on No. 17 Mcdonald Street, 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 Street, Ikoyi Lagos”, Wetkas told the Tribunal.

He said even though the policy of the Presidential Committee does allow anybody to buy more than one property, the Senate President bought three of the property from the committee, saying that the property No 17 and 17A Mcdonald Street, Ikoyi were acquired in Saraki’s personal name, while the Property No 15, Mcdonald Street was bought under the name of Carlie Property and Investment Limited.

He said investigation revealed a list of property Saraki owned, one of which include Rustos Garden with nine property that yields a total income of N126 million per annum, which he also failed to declare.

Under cross examination by Saraki’s lead counsel, Kanu Agabi (SAN), the witness, Wetkas told the Tribunal that it was the prosecutor who told him to file a summary report of his findings and activities during investigation.

According to him, the charge against the Senate President was filed on September 14, 2015 while the witness report, which form part of proof of evidence was filed on October 30, 2015.

The witness also told the Tribunal that he did not investigate the pension scheme of Kwara state, neither did he know the entitlement of the defendant.

The witnesses had, last week told the Tribunal Saraki was receiving monthly salaries from the Kwara state government for four after the expiration of his tenure as governor of Kwara state.

The Senate President was arraigned by the anti-graft agency on a 13-count charge bordering on allegations of false asset declaration and money laundering. He had earlier pleaded not guilty to the charges slammed against him by the federal government.

The matter continues today.

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