The Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar, on Monday explained why Nigeria’s embattled President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, must abandon Senate sittings and attend his trial everyday.
Overruling Mr. Saraki’s lead counsel’s application for the trial not to hold when the Senate is having plenary, Mr. Umar said the president of the Senate was the one facing trial not the Senate.
He then ruled that the trial would hold from 10am till noon on daily basis.
The tribunal chairman also turned down Mr. Agabi’s request for the daily proceedings of the court, saying such request would overburden the tribunal’s registry.
The trial continued Monday with the examination of the first prosecution witness, Michael Wetkas, after which the cross examination began.
Earlier, Mr. Wetkas told the tribunal that Mr. Saraki’s wife, Toyin, and her parents Mr. and Mrs. Ojora, were the major promoters of a company, Tiny T Limited, involved in the alleged false asset declaration by Mr. Saraki.
“Chief Mrs. Ojualape Ojora, Toyin’s mother, Mrs. Toyin Saraki, Chief Ojora, Toyin’s father and Bukola Saraki, were the chief promoters of Tiny T,” Mr. Wetkas said.
Mr. Wetkas had earlier told the tribunal that Tiny T Limited, was the company, whose name was used by Mr. Saraki to purchase an undeclared property.
The witness also told the tribunal that Mr. Saraki had bought three houses from the Presidential Implementation Committee on Sale of Government Properties.
He added that it was a matter of policy for the committee to only sell one property in a given state to one buyer.
Mr. Wetkas further said Mr. Saraki made anticipatory declaration of assets, adding that the property bought from the committee was declared as No. 15 A and B on McDonald Street, Ikoyi on his Assets Declaration Form.
However, Mr. Wetkas said, when his investigative team wrote the committee for verification, it discovered that the property belonging to Mr. Saraki was only identified as only No. 15 – not No. 15 A and B as claimed.
The witness explained further that the building was having four flats inside it, and that 75 per cent of the payment for the said building, amounting to about N123million was made from an account belonging to a certain company, identified as SkyView Properties, which was declared by Mr. Saraki as his company.
He added that the property was bought in the name of another company, Tiny T Limited.
Mr. Wetkas also said Mr. Saraki did not declare another property, located on No. 17 MacDonald Street, Lagos which he purchased at the cost of over N500 million, but paid separately from his companies, Carlisle and Skyview Properties.
Also according to Mr. Wetkas, Mr. Saraki failed to declare in his Assets Declaration Forms of 2003, 2007 and 2011 respectively, two assets located on No. 2481 and 2482 Cadastral Zone A06, which he purchased in 1993.
Mr. Wetkas further stated that his investigation team conducted an investigation into a company owned by Mr. Saraki and found a list of properties that yielded over N145 million annually for Mr. Saraki.
Shortly after the documents containing the various evidences were admitted as exhibits, Mr. Wetkas was cross-examined by the lead defence counsel, Kanu Agabi.
During the cross examination, Mr. Wetkas told the tribunal that there was no mention of Kwara Freedom Network’s petition, which had earlier been portrayed as the origin of Mr. Saraki’s investigation, nor was there a mention of any petition whatsoever in his statement.
He however stated that he had mentioned an intelligence report during his examination at the tribunal.
Mr. Wetkas told the tribunal that his team did not conduct a forensic investigation into a report by the Kwara Freedom Network, stressing that the said investigation was conducted by another team.
He also stated that he personally did not conduct a forensic investigation into the accounts of Kwara State related to the loss of funds by government, nor did he conduct any investigation into the pensions scheme of Kwara State.
Mr. Wetkas also told to the tribunal that his statement came on October 30, 2015 – more than a month after the charge was filed on September 14 last year.
Subsequently, the defence counsel said the statement of Mr. Wetkas could not have formed part of the proof of evidence and requested time to study the document before the cross-examination.
After a heated debate on the supposed date for the next sitting, the case was adjourned to April 19 for continuation of cross examination.