Shocking Revelations As Senate President Saraki’s Trial Begins

 

A witness on Tuesday told the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, that Senate President Bukola Saraki, while he was governor of Kwara State, used fictitious names and several companies to launder billions of naira abroad which he used to buy properties.

The witness, Michael Wetkas, an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, said investigations showed that aides of the former governor made cash lodgments of between N600,000 to N900,000 up to 50 times in one day and that more than N4 billion passed through one of his accounts between 2005 and 2013.

The witness also disclosed that Saraki had several properties in Nigeria and abroad that he failed to declare before and after he served as governor of Kwara State.

Wetkas told the tribunal that investigations into Saraki’s financial dealings commenced after his second term ended in 2011 when the EFCC received several petitions against him alleging abuse of office, misappropriation of public funds and money laundering.

Investigations showed that Saraki was linked to several companies which laundered money that was then used to buy properties for him abroad. The companies include Carlisle Properties and Investments Limited, Skyview Properties Limited, Linkers Nigeria Limited and Tiny-tee Limited.

The witness said that the former governor was found to have three accounts with GTB, in naira, dollar and pound sterling and that “from 2005 to 2013 about N4 Billion moved in and out of the accounts.”

“The major source of inflow into the accounts was loans taken from GTB within the period. The loans were about N2.5bn, and the other source of inflows into the account was massive lodgments by individuals. Other inflows into the account were from the companies,”Wetkas stated.

According to him most of the money was used in purchasing properties.

Between 2009 and 2013, about $6 million passed through Saraki’s domiciliary account with most of it laundered abroad to purchase property, the witness told the tribunal.

“The dollar account was also analysed. The major source of inflow into the dollar account was Tily-lie Properties Ltd, which was about $2m. Other source was from bureau de change companies. And the rest was cash lodgments by individuals.

“The cash in the dollar account between 2009 and 2013 was $6m. We discovered that up to $3.4m was wired to American Express Services Europe Limited, which was used to fund the defendant’s American Express Service New York card account number 374588216836009. The defendant wired over 1.5m pound sterling to Fortis Bank for the purchase of a property in the UK,” he said.

Wetkas also said that officials of the GTB who were discovered to have made cash lodgments into Saraki’s account told investigators that they collected the money directly from the defendant at the Government House, Ilorin and paid into his account.

“One of them, Oluwatojimi Adeye, reported to the commission that the monies he lodged into the accounts were given to him by a superior officer, Bayo Dauda, who was the relationship manager of the account mentioned.

“Mr. Dauda informed investigators that the cash were handed to him by the defendant. He said he used to go to the Government House Ilorin to collect the cash. Most lodgements were done by two individuals, one Ubi and another Abdul Adama.

“Ubi in a single day made five separate lodgements of about N77 million in five transactions.

“Abdul Adama on a single day made 50 lodgments into the same account of monies between N600, 000 to N980,000. Ubi made additional 20 lodgements on the same day of cash ranging from N600, 000 to N900,000.”

As Saraki’s trial proper began on Tuesday, one his counsels, Paul Usoro, had attempted to stall proceedings again when he asked the CCT to adjourn sitting until a motion he filed on Monday at the Court of Appeal challenging the tribunal’s jurisdiction in hearing the case in Abuja is heard.






     

     

    The prosecutor, Rotimi Jacob, had informed the tribunal of his readiness to commence proceedings by calling a witness, pointing out that the case was adjourned for commencement of trial on March 24.

    After listening to arguments on the two sides, the tribunal dismissed the application, stating that the trial cannot be stopped merely based on a motion filed in the appellate court challenging its jurisdiction.

    The Justice Danladi Umar-led panel of the CCT ruled that the defendant’s application for adjournment offended provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA 2015.

    “Having listened to argument from Counsels, and considering the provisions of laws in the Constitution and Criminal Justice Act, 2015, especially on the powers of CCT in a case brought before it, I want to rule that trial should commence immediately,” the chairman of the trial panel said.

     

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