Power Failure Forces Adjournment At Saraki Trial

Senate President Bukola Saraki
Senate President Bukola Saraki

Senate President Bukola Saraki’s plea for adjournment of his corruption trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal caught a lucky break when the lights at the court went off, forcing the panel chairman to adjourn the case around 5.30pm Wednesday.

Saraki, who is facing prosecution for false asset declaration, has employed every means to stall his trial and despite both the Supreme Court and CCT refusing his pleas, he has not given up.

During the resumed hearing on Wednesday, the Senate President, who had said he was happy that the trial had commenced, asked the Tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, for another adjournment but the judge refused.

Danladi told the Senate President that it was in his interest that the case be dispensed with on time and indicated that he would hear the case till 6:00pm only for the diesel in the tribunal’s power generator to get exhausted. With a mild darkness and intense heat taking over the court, the case was adjourned till April 18 as against the two weeks Saraki asked for.

The former governor of Kwara State’s trial has thrown up a lot of issues surrounding his stranglehold on the state, with shocking details of how millions of naira was deposited daily into his personal account, including the purchase of properties with a loan obtained from a bank.

The latest revelation showed that Saraki continued to receive a salary from the state government after leaving office.

According to a prosecution witness, Michael Wetkas, a detective with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the state government paid Saraki a monthly salary and pension of N1.2 million for four years after leaving office in 2011.

The payment only stopped on August 31, 2015, the court heard.

Wektas gave details of how Saraki perpetrated his alleged crimes of money laundry with the help of Guaranty Trust Bank, GTB, which operated his three accounts, in naira, dollar and pound sterling.

According to the witness, the bank allowed illegalities by its staff to go on, including the tellers used in making the deposits not containing the address and phone numbers of the depositors, adding that $3.4 million was transferred to the United States using the dollar account.

“From Exhibit 15, which is the statement of the defendant’s salary account in Intercontinental Bank (now Access Bank), it was found that in 2009, N254,412.25k was paid as salary for July 2007; for May 2011, N291,124  was paid on June 10, 2011. The narration reads: KWSG May 2011 salary.

“On July 4, 2011, there was another payment of N572,286.32k, with the narration: KWSG June salary; on August 29, 2011 there was also N744,002.22k payment as salary. On September, 29, 2011, there was a transaction of N 743,902.22 with the narration as September salary. October 27, 2011, a transaction of N1,165,466.12 as October salary.

“On December 27, there was a payment of the same N1,165,466.12. On December 28, 2011, there was payment of the same N 1,165,466.12. The narration said December pension. In February 2012, he was paid the same amount, with the narration saying salary,” Wetkas told the Tribunal.






     

     

    Meanwhile, the Kwara State government on Wednesday denied paying the Senate President any salary after he left office as governor.

    A statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Isiaka Gold, said the last time Saraki received his salary of N291,474 from the state was May 2011.

    “From June 2011, former Governor Saraki started receiving his pension, which was N578,188.00 as other past governors in the country,” the statement said, adding that following the Kwara State Pension Board review of pension for political office holders, the former governor’s pension rose to N1,239,493.94 a month from October 2014.

    The prosecution witness, Wetkas, is expected to conclude his testimony on April 18 to enable the defence cross examine him immediately.

     

     

     

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