Senate President Bukola Saraki has pleaded not guilty to the amended 18-count charges brought against him by the federal government before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.
After Saraki had entered his plea, Chairman of the tribunal, Danladi Umar, asked the third prosecution witness, Samuel Madujemu, to go ahead with his testimony.
The witness, who is the Chief Admin Officer at the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, narrated how discrepancies were discovered in Saraki’s assets declaration form.
He told the court that he was the head of investigation division under the Department of Intelligence, Investigation and Monitoring, and had assisted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to probe Saraki’s assets.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, the witness alleged that Saraki, while still governor of Kwara State, made several cash lodgements running into billions of Naira into his personal accounts.
Madujemu also said that cash lodgements were in excess of what Saraki legitimately earned as a governor.
When the witness was asked if public officers are permitted by the law to operate private business ventures, he replied: “My lord, public officers are only entitled to engage in farming. Governors are not permitted to engage in sales of Rice and Sugar”.
Recall that the Senate President was initially arraigned in September 2015, on a 13-count charge, which was later amended in April 2016 to 16 counts, and earlier this year, the federal government increased the counts to 18.
Saraki is accused, among other things, of making false declaration of assets, operating foreign accounts while in office as Kwara State governor between 2003 and 2011, as well as receiving governorship salary four years after his tenure had elapsed.
In some of the allegations, the federal government accused Saraki of falsely claiming that he bought property at No 17A and 17B McDonald Street, Ikoyi, Lagos from the proceeds of sales of Rice and Sugar commodities, “whereas he acquired the said properties with aggregate sum of N497.2million, through a loan he obtained from Guaranty Trust Bank Plc.”
The Senate President is also accused of transferring the sum of $73, 223. 28 in 2008 to a bank account he operated outside Nigeria while still the Governor of Kwara State.