CCT adjourns Saraki’s trial till April 5

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By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA—The Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, in Abuja, yesterday, adjourned further hearing on the 18-count charge the Federal Government preferred against the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, till April 5.

The Justice Danladi Umar-led tribunal adjourned to enable government lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, to re-examine the third prosecution witness, PW-3, Mr. Samuel Madujemu.

Madujemu, who began his evidence-in-chief on February 8, is the Chief Admin Officer and former head of Investigation Division at the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB.

He headed the CCB investigation Division under the Department of Intelligence, Investigation and Monitoring, which joined the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to probe Saraki’s assets in 2015.

Saraki

The witness told the tribunal that directive for Saraki’s assets to be investigated came from the Federal Ministry of Justice.

He said that two separate investigations were conducted in 2006 and 2015, following oral directive from “the top”

Admitting that the CCB had no issues with Saraki until the directive came, the PW-3, told the tribunal that the defendant’s assets “came under heavy suspicion”, after it was found out that an initial investigation that was conducted by the EFCC was “scanty”.

According to him, the 2006 team did not conduct proper investigation on Saraki’s assets.

“Outcome of the 2006 team was reviewed by the EFCC and was discovered to be scanty. It was discovered that it did not cover all the declarations made by the defendant, hence the need for setting up another team.

“I do not have the report where EFCC declared the earlier investigation scanty. But I have a mental record of the declaration due to my interaction with the team”, the witness stated.

Asked if the CCB had any issue with Saraki before the EFCC report came, the witness said: “My lord, the complaint came from Federal Ministry of Justice arising from an investigation that was conducted by the EFCC”.

The witness said he was not aware of petitions written against Saraki at CCB.

“It is not to my knowledge whether or not the Bureau had issues with the defendant before our team was constituted by the Federal Ministry of Justice. “After the complaint came from the Ministry of Justice, the Bureau and the EFCC decided to collaborate to ensure detailed investigation on the alleged infractions by the defendant”.

The witness said he was not aware that Saraki was invited by the 2006 investigative team.

“I was only a member of the 2015 team made up of the EFCC, CCB and Ministry of Justice”.

He said his team did not interview the defendant because he had already made his statements on oath in his assets declaration forms.

“The assets came under suspicion so there was need for further investigations”.

He said infractions were discovered from particulars of the assets that were declared, accompanied with the evidence made available to the team by the EFCC.

“As a matter of convention at the CCB, we usually invite suspects. But it is not compulsory. It is within the prerogative of the Chairman to decide if suspect should be invited or not.

“The defendant was not invited because his assets declaration form was already accepted as his statement”, Madujemu added.

He further told the tribunal that Saraki was not the only ex-Governor that the Bureau has investigated.

Madujemu said the directive that Saraki’s assets must be probed, was given orally.

“The terms of reference for the team was also given orally. When we completed our work, we also briefed the Chairman of the CCB orally”.

Saraki’s lawyer, Mr. Paul Erokoro, SAN, concluded cross-examination of the   PW-3 on Wednesday, even as the prosecution counsel, Mr. Jacobs, SAN, applied for an adjournment to re-examine him, a request that was accordingly granted by the tribunal Chairman, Justice Umar.

Before the matter was adjourned, Jacobs, SAN, notified the tribunal of his intention to produce two more witnesses to testify against the defendant.

“My lord we have two more witnesses. There evidence is going to be very short because we have already called our main witnesses and tendered sufficient evidence against the defendant”, Jacobs added.

Earlier in his testimony, Madujemu disclosed that Saraki made his first assets declaration on September 16, 2003, upon his assumption of office as a governor.

He told the tribunal that Saraki under-declared some assets he acquired in 2006.

For instance, he told the tribunal that Saraki declared two properties he bought in Lagos and left out two others.

Reading from one of the assets declaration forms marked as exhibit-3, the witness said: “My lord what I see here is No17a and 17b Mc Donald Street Ikoyi which the defendant acquired with a bank loan in 2006.

“No 15a and 15b Mc Donald Ikoyi which he also acquired in 2006 was not included in the assets he declared”.

Saraki allegedly acquired the properties with N365m.

A lead detective with the EFCC, Mr. Michael Wetkas, earlier testified before the tribunal as the PW-1.

Wetkas was head of a three-man crack team that investigated six separate petitions against Saraki.

The PW-2, Mr. Nwachukwu Amazu, who was a former head of fund transfer unit at Guarantee Trust Bank, GTB, had exposed before the tribunal, how the defendant allegedly laundered funds to offshore accounts between 2009 and 2012.

Nwachukwu, narrated how his bank helped Saraki to wire about £1.6million to the United Kingdom in 2010, and over $3m to the United States of America between 2009 to 2012.

He said whereas the £1.6m was sent to UK in three tranches, the $3m was transferred from Saraki’s Dollar account, to American Express Services Europe Limited, in a space of three years.

FG had among other things, alleged that Saraki made false/anticipatory declaration of assets, operated foreign accounts while in office as Kwara State governor between 2003 and 2011, as well as collected governorship salary four years after his tenure had elapsed.

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