Saturday, 9 April 2016

Bukola Saraki Undergoes Trial

Prosecution Details Heavy Evidence Of How He Transferred Millions To The US And Kept Getting Paid Full Salary 4 Years After He Stopped Being Governor

Government on Wednesday tendered overwhelming evidence of three statements of account at the Code of Conduct Tribunal detailing the extensive corrupt practices of the embattled President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki as Governor of Kwara State, including fraudulent cash lodgments in his accounts, and collecting salaries as governor for years after he ceased to be one.  
Testifying for the second day in a row was a Principal Witness, Michael Wetkas, who was shedding more light on the illicit transactions that were carried out in the personal accounts of Mr. Saraki through GTB bank officials, individuals and even a Bureau De Change.
But tracing the relentless trajectory of Mr. Saraki’s corruption, the witness disclosed how, even when he ceased to be governor, he continued to collect salaries as one.
“In exhibit 15, the defendant was still collecting salaries as Governor till 31st of August 2015 after he had seized to be one since 29th May 2011 when his second tenure ended. As at July 2007, the account statement of the defendant was N254,412,125K. In June 2011 it was put at N291,124 with the narration KWSGMAY2011 salary.  On July  4th2011 another payment with narration KWSG May 2011 salary.”
Of Mr. Saraki’s accounts as governor, Wetkas said it that in one instance alone, the investigating team found that as many as 87 cash lodgments were carried out by cronies of the defendant who left no addresses on the deposit slip, thereby making it difficult for the investigating team to trace them eventually.
He further stated that the team however found that one person’s handwriting was responsible for filling some of those slips in many places. The bank explained that they reported the transaction to the Financial Intelligence Unit
Wetkas also testified that one Bayo, a GTBank official, lodged $8000 in two tranches and another $4000 into the dollar account of Saraki at the GRA Branch of GTBank in Ilorin, all in the same day. 
“On Feb.  27th 2007, there was a cash deposit of N3million by one Josiah Samuel,” he said. “On 3rd April 2007 there was a telegraphic transfer of N180,675,000:00 as part payment to the Presidential Implementation Committee on Landed Properties. Also on 5th Sept. 2007 there were some cash lodgments by one Ubi who made cash lodgment in five tranches on the same day in the sum of N11million, N20million, N20million, N20million, N6million in total was N77million. The position of the account was in a debit balance of N81,960,289.
Continuing his testimony on Wednesday, Wetkas told the court in a written statement about how the EFCC investigated Saraki’s accounts various accounts and the loans on them: Naira (Account No 0034967455); US (Account no 0034967479); and his Pound Sterling (Account No. 441953/3/1/0.)
He noted that from GTB the commission obtained the certificate of identification of accounts.  “From the statement of account they used 441441953/1/1/0,” he said.  “The bank also provided us with an offer letter of the loan of the sum of the N375million which was used to purchase properties in London and the letter was dated 10th of Feb. 2010.”
Continuing, he said, “On 23th March 2005 a cash lodgment of N10million was made by one Abdul Adama. On 24th March, 2005, there was a cash deposit of N8,000,240,000 at GRA Brach of the GTBank  Ilorin .
“On 29th march, 2005, bank draft of N200,640,000:00 was made in favour of Presidential Implementation Committee on sale of Federal Government Properties for the purchase of the property [Saraki] bought from the committee. On the same 29th march 2005, there was a loan disbursement by GTBank of N200million which preceded the bank draft of N200million.  On 16th Oct, 2006, there was a disbursement of N380million from the GTBank. On the same day there were two bank drafts combine in one transaction in sum of N256,312,000:00 815 in favour of Implementation Committee. On the same day, there was another draft of N12,000,815:00 in favour of Implementation Committee on Landed Property.. On the 5th Jan, 2007 there was a loan disbursement of the sum of N380million.”                                            
According to the statement, “On 27th Feb, 2007, there was a cash deposit of N3million by one Josiah Samuel.   On 3rd April 2007 there was a telegraphic transfer of N180, 675,000:00 as part payment to the Implementation Committee.  On 5th Sept, 2007, there was a cash lodgment by one Ubi who made cash lodgment in five tranches on the same day in the sum of N11million, N20million, and 20million. N20million, N6million with total of N77million. The position of the account was in a debit balance of N81,960,289:00.
“On 22nd Nov. 2007 there were cash lodgments by one Abdul Adama in 50 different transactions. Before the lodgment, the account was in a debit balance of N80,210,976:00. On 29th Nov.2007 there were cash lodgment by Ubi in over 20 transaction of about N20million. On 14th march 2008 there were cash lodgments but the account balance was N96, 857,885. On the 18th April 2008 there were cash lodgments by several individuals with different names. On 23th Sept, 2008 also there were several cash lodgments by individual with different names.  On 30th April 2009, there was a draft in favour of EGL Asset Management Limited with sum of N400million. Also there a loan disbursement of N400million on same day followed by several cash lodgments by individuals.
With reference to “Exhibit E8,” (US Dollar Account), Wetkas testified as follows: “On 18th May 2009 there was a cash lodgement by one  Kodimu  of $8000 at  GRA Branch of GTBank  Ilorin. Also he lodged another $8000 same day.  On the same date there was another lodgment by one Bayo (a banker) of $4000. On 19th there were cash lodgment of $180,000 in 18 times. While the last three deposit was made  by the defendant (Saraki)  himself.”
Testifying further about large dollar deposits into Saraki’s account, Wetkas said:
On June12th 2009, a $50,000 lodgment was made by one Garba Dare, as well as a payment of $49,000,969 made by Calie Property and Investment limited and one Bureau de Change Companies. 
On Sept  7th 2009 there was $69,000,964 lodgment made by the same company.  Also there was transfer to American Express Services Europe limited account of $3,000 400,000. Part of the outflow was also made to the Pound sterling account of the defendant. 
“According to the telex we have which was dated  August 26th 2008 for the transfer to the beneficiary bank America Express Bank New York was $73,000,223. Pound sterling account has three deposits and three outflows of over £1.516million .  Also from the Telex we have the money was transferred to Fortis Bank SA/MV for mortgage redemption.”                              
Wetkas contested the claim by Saraki that No 15A and 15B McDonald Ikoyi was bought in March 2009 in the name of Calie Properties limited with the sum of N160million with the income of N7million. 
“But this company was missing in the asset declaration form where the defendant claimed that he has  substantial shares in some companies in the country,” he pointed out.               
The prosecution tendered the three statements of account as evidence, but when confronted with the documents, should the defence have any objection regarding the evidence, lead defence counsel Kanu Agabi said that they reserved their objection on the matter.   

Petitions by Kwara Freedom Network and three others, as well as the Kwara State chapter of Concerned Pensioners of Nigeria were submitted as evidence alongside a letter written to the investigating team by the Presidential Committee on Landed Property.

Designed by Martins Okpa