Bukola Saraki’s assets form not verified by EFCC , says witness
• Investigator admits not seeing intelligence report but ‘was briefed’
• Mild drama as another prosecution witness sneaks out of court
• Tribunal rejects plea for adjournment
As the trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki continued yesterday, the first prosecution witness (PW1) admitted before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) that some of the exhibits he tendered earlier were not investigated by his team.
Mr. Micheal Wetkas, an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), during a cross-examination by the lead defence counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), admitted that he did not investigate the petitions in Exhibits 11, 12 and 13.
Exhibit 11, dated May 22, 2012, was a petition written by Kwara Freedom Network, inviting EFCC to investigate Kwara State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB).
Wetkas had earlier in his evidence in-chief informed the tribunal of the petition by the Kwara Freedom Network. But yesterday, he said that his team did not investigate the petition.
He in fact declined virtually every question put to him by the defence counsel on most of the documents he tendered, stressing that he did not participate in the investigations.
When asked to produce the petitions, Wetkas quickly told the tribunal most of them were oral and intelligence reports from sources who pleaded anonymity . He also admitted most of the intelligence reports he based his investigations on emanated from ‘whistle blowers’.
“Most times to the best of my knowledge, people who bring information prefer anonymity. If it was not in anonymity, it would be called a petition,” he said.
Also, Exhibit 12, which was dated May 7, 2011, was addressed to the chairman of the EFCC asking the anti-graft agency to investigate the Kwara State government on borrowings for projects described as phoney . Exhibit 13 was a petition dated June 7, 2012, which was about the mismanagement of local government revenue in Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.
When asked if in the course of his investigations he had audience with the accountant general of Kwara State, the witness said he did not as that was not part of his assignment. When also asked whether he invited any official of the Kwara State government in the course of investigation, the witness said he did not. On whether he got another written document to buttress the petition written by Kwara Freedom Network, the witness also said he did not.
During further examination, the witness was asked why he tendered documents he did not investigate and for which he could not answer questions . He told the tribunal that he did not tender the exhibits on his own but that they were tendered through him by the prosecution.
Wetkas also admitted under the cross-examination that investigating the assets declaration of the defendant did not form part of his schedule of duty. He, however, admitted that exhibits three, four and five which were assets declaration forms of the defendant were duly examined and stamped by the Code of Conduct Bureau.
The exchange went like this: Agabi: “There was a stamp to show that assets declared were examined. Did you come across the report of this in exhibit three?’’
Witness: “I did not. The investigation was the offshoot of the intelligence report we received.”
Agabi: “I put it to you that there was no intelligence report.’’
Witness: “I am under oath. If there was no intelligence document, I will not come here to say what I have said.”
Agabi: ‘‘Do you have the intelligence report?’’
Witness: “It is at times oral and other times, a piece of information from whistle blowers. Most times, the people who bring the report want the commission to keep their identity confidential. Most times when they come, they go to the higher authorities.
“What we are expected to do is to go and find out whether what we were told has elements of truth. In this case, I said it under oath that documents were handed over to my team. They formed the takeoff point for my team in 2014.”
Agabi: “Do you have these documents?’’
Witness: “The investigation my team conducted was based on intelligence. There were other petitions being investigated by other teams. That was the reason the other team members would be in a better position to answer those questions.”
At this time, Agabi asked the witness to look round the courtroom to see if any of his colleagues from CCB was in the court to assist in answering questions emanating from the assets declaration form. He told the court that Nura Bako was in the court.
Aware that he was not supposed to be in court, having been listed as a prosecution witness, Bako sneaked out of the court but not without the notice of the defence team, who notified the tribunal of the mild drama.
The witness added that in the petition his team investigated, Saraki’s asset declaration was not in contention.
He further said that the investigation of the defendant was based on an intelligence report obtained by the former chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde and not the three petitions tendered as exhibits.
The witness stated that the six assets declaration forms submitted by Saraki to the CCB were never investigated by his team. He, however, stated that his team was directed to investigate the intelligence report alone.
At the end of the day, defence counsel asked for adjournment to enable him and his team to study the exhibits but the Chairman, CCT, Mr Danladi Umar, maintained his earlier position that the trial would continue daily.
“The application for adjournment till next week is hereby refused and the matter shall be heard day by day as earlier ruled”, Umar said.
He consequently adjourned hearing till today by 10:00 a.m. for the continuation of the cross-examination.
Meanwhile, the Bishop of Egba Diocese of the Anglican Church, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Oludaisi Adekunle yesterday asked Saraki to resign from his position to allow for a thorough investigation over the CCT case.
The bishop who spoke while addressing a press conference to herald the 2016 Diocesan Synod of the church also condemned moves by the Senate to amend the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) Act, insisting that it was an attempt by some of the senators to cover their “tracks and prevent them from being investigated.”