Saraki got salaries, pension as governor till 2015, says witness
• 87 transactions made in one day to offset bank loans
• Cross-examination fixed for April 18
The witness produced by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Michael Wetkas, in the ongoing trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki made more revelations yesterday.
At the resumed hearing at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, he testified that Saraki received monthly salaries and pension from Kwara State years after he had concluded his two terms as a governor.
Wetkas said that the Senate president who left office in May 2011 had continued to receive both monthly salaries and pension from June 2011 till August 31, 2015. The witness provided details of payment, which he said, were the outcome of the investigation his team conducted.
He said: “In May 2011, Saraki was paid N291,134.00 as salary. In June, he was paid N572,286.32. In August, he was paid N744,002.22k. In September, he received N743,942.22. In October the same year, he was paid N1,165,466.12. In December, he received the same amount as October but twice (December 27 and 28, 2011 respectively)
“He continued to receive the same amount monthly as pension and salary respectively until August 31, 2015, when the payment stopped after the case had been filed against him by the EFCC.”
The witness also informed the tribunal of several lodgments by different individuals, the highest of which was as much as 87 times in one day into the defendant’s naira account.
He said: “On October 26, 2009, there were cash deposits by different individuals for up to 87 transactions. These payments were made in order to raise money to pay back the loans collected from the Guarantee Trust Bank. Before the payment, the account was in debit balance.”
On the likely reasons for different lodgments, the witness said it might not be unconnected with the Money Laundering Act, which criminalised single heavy lodgments. Hence, the amount was decimated into several lodgments.
Wetkas also testified that deposit slips were suspiciously filled in and sometimes, one handwriting was observed to have been used in filling in most of the deposit slips.
According to him, the bank management had said during investigations that the suspicious transactions were reported to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit.
The witness was brought in by EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, Tuesday after the defence counsel, Paul Usoro, who stood in for Saraki’s lead counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), failed to secure an adjournment from the tribunal.
As the court resumed on Tuesday, Usoro had asked the tribunal for an adjournment to enable the Court of Appeal to determine the fate of an application brought before it by Saraki. This was, however, turned down by the Chairman of the tribunal, Mr. Danladi Umar, who insisted that the trial must begin as scheduled.
Saraki had shortly before the Easter break, lost his application whereby he prayed the tribunal to strike out the trial as the CCT lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case.
But in his ruling, Umar said the tribunal had the jurisdiction to hear the case bordering on the discrepancies in the assets declaration form filled in and submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau by Saraki. He consequently set April 5 for the commencement of trial.
All the documents tendered so far by the prosecution counsel were admitted in evidence and marked as exhibits one to 25. This followed the analysis of the documents supporting the claims earlier made by the witness on Tuesday.
The efforts of the defence counsel to convince the tribunal against the time- consuming process proved abortive as he was overruled.
In the course of tendering the documented evidence, the witness told the tribunal that his team had requested the three personal accounts belonging to Saraki (defendant) from GTB.
“Part of the requests was the loans statement on the naira account which was provided. The same letter of request was sent to banks on his dollar and pounds sterling accounts.
“The submitted documents were to support our claims that in November 5, 2009, there were cash lodgments by several individuals.There were also documents to support the N375 million which was used to purchase landed property in London”, the witness said.
Others were letter of response received from the banks, telex transfer document for transactions on foreign accounts; petitions from Kwara Freedom Network dated June 7, 2012, asking EFCC to investigate the monthly revenue account between 2003 and 2011 of the 16 Local Government Areas in Kwara State as well as other petitions emanating from Concerned Pensioners of Nigeria, Kwara State chapter.
In his response, counsel to Saraki, Agabi, expressed the need to carefully study the documents tendered by the prosecution and consequently reserved his objection.“It is on record that you have reserved your objections for now”, the chairman noted.
Continuing, the witness stated that N380 million was accessed as loan from GTB and that on the same day, there were two drafts drawn in favour of Presidential Implementation Committee for the Sales of Government Houses for N256,312,815.
“On October 16, 2006, the sum of N12.8 million was raised also in favour of Presidential Implementation Committee for the Sales of Government Houses. Each draft drawn for the committee was meant for the purchase of landed properties.
“On February 5, 2007, there was another loan disbursement by GTB of N380 million. On February 27, there was a cash deposit of N3 million by one Samuel. On April 5, there was a telegraphic transfer from the defendant for N180.6 million from the same account.
“As I said on Tuesday, on September 5, 2007, one Ubi made five lodgments in five tranches the same day for N11million, N20 million, N20 million, N20 million and N6 million – totalling N77 million. The account was in a debit balance to the tune of N31.9 million.
“On November 22, 2007, there were cash lodgments into the accounts by Abdul Adama in 50 different transactions totalling about N45 million. Before then, the account was in a debit balance of N80.2 million. On November 29, there were cash lodgements by Ubi numbering over 20 transactions totalling about N20 million.
“On March 2008, there were cash lodgments by different individuals. Before then, the account was in a debit balance of N96.8million. On April 18, 2008, there were also cash lodgments by several individuals. September 23, there were several cash lodgments by different individuals, different names. April 30, 2009, there was a draft in favour of BGL Assets Management Limited for N400 million. Before the payment that same day, there were several cash lodgments by different individuals.
“There was one N65 million lodgment after which there was a loan disbursement of N400 million, followed by several lodgments by different individuals.”
On the dollar account, the witness stated that “on May 18, 2009, there was a cash lodgment by Todimu for $8,000. There was also another cash deposit of $4,000 by a banker, Bayo and another $8,000. The three transactions amounted to $20,000. On May 19, there were 18 transactions of $10,000 each. The last three were deposited by the defendant personally.
“On June 12, 2009, there was cash deposit of $50,000 by one Garba Dare. On August 21, there was $99,975 deposit by one Bin Dahuuh, an operator of a bureau de change. On August 26, $49,969 was deposited by Carlisle Property and Investment Limited. On September 7, $59,964 was deposited by the same company.
“Transfers from this account were made to American Express Services Europe Limited … From investigation, the transfers from this account to American Express Services Europe Limited account amounted to $3,400,000. Part of the outflows from the account was to the pounds sterling account.
“The defendant gave the instruction to transfer the funds and American Express Bank, New York is the beneficiary”, the witness said.
He, however, told the tribunal that the pounds sterling account had only six transactions – three deposits and three outflows of over £1,516,000.
Agabi prayed the tribunal to adjourn till another day as the day was far gone but Umar objected, stressing that the trial was at a crucial stage and it was not good to stop halfway.
He added that he was ready for day-to-day trial and if he was not tired, the parties directly involved in the case should not complain of tiredness.
When the parties finally agreed to adjourn after 5:00 p.m., the chairman fixed April 18 for the continuation of the prosecution witness’ testimony after which the defence counsel would be expected to take cross examination.