The Federal Government filed one more charge against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who is standing trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Mr. Saraki was initially facing a 16-count charge of fraud levelled against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau.
The bureau had on September 16, 2015 filed a 13-count charge against him for alleged false and anticipatory declaration of assets, but increased the number to 15 on April 18 and added one more charge on April 27 2016.
The government later increased the charges to 17 on January 11, 2017.
On Thursday, a government lawyer told the tribunal a new amendment had been filed, bringing the charges to 18.
The Senate President pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
In the new charge, Mr. Saraki is accused of making false declaration, when he declared that he purchased a property at number 15A Macdonald Street Ikoyi, Lagos through his company Carlisle Properties Limited in 2003, but the said property was actually sold to G and C Real Estates Properties and Investment Company limited for 12million Naira.
He is also accused of making false declaration that he acquired the properties through sales of agricultural commodities, when it was purchased using a loan from a commercial bank.
Meanwhile, the prosecution witness, Samuel Madojemu, admitted making a contradictory claim.
Mr. Madojemu had earlier testified that Mr. Saraki in one of his asset forms claimed to have acquired properties at No. 15a and 17 a Macdonald Street Ikoyi Lagos from proceeds of rice and sugar commodities.
According to him, engaging personally in rice and sugar business is unlawful for any public officer.
However, under cross examination by Paul Erokoro, Mr. Saraki’s lawyer, the witness admitted that public officers are allowed to own shares in companies in addition to owning farms for agricultural purposes.
The witness informed the Danladi Umar led tribunal that there is no law in the country at the moment that forbids public officers from having even majority or controlling shares in any company.
Under further cross examination, Mr. Madojemu said that he never asked the Senate President during investigation on whether he had shares in any company trading in rice and sugar or nut.
The witness also admitted that he never seen any audited account of any company linked to Mr. Saraki who was accused of false asset declaration by the Federal Government.
The witness also said that contrary to his averment in his asset declaration form, the Senate President did not acquire the said properties from the presidential committee on sales of federal government properties, but from another company G & C real estate property and investment company.
The trial was adjourned to continue on March 2.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...