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False Assets Declaration: Witness Faults Saraki’s Claim On Source of Funds to Acquire Properties

ABUJA, NIGERIA (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Monday resumed the hearing of the Senate President Bukola Saraki, over alleged false and anticipatory assets declaration suit, with the prosecution witness, Mr. Michael Wetkas faulting his claim of acquiring his Lagos properties, through the profits he made from the sales of rice and sugar.

Wetkas made the submission before the Tribunal, when he was being cross examined by defendant’s lawyer, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN).

The properties in question are located at 17A and B, McDonald Street, Ikoyi, Lagos and witness argued that they were acquired in 2006 with proceeds from loans Senator Saraki obtained from the Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB).

When asked to read from Saraki’s various asset declaration forms, already admitted by the court as exhibits, Wetkas indicated that the asset declaration form dated June 3, 2011 submitted (at the end of Saraki’s tenure as Kwara State Governor), showed that he acquired the property in 2006, and five others in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1996 and 2000 with ‘’proceeds of sales of rice and sugar’’.

In contrary, the witness said Saraki had earlier declared on July 11, 2007 (at the end of his first tenure) that the same assets were acquired through the loan of N497 million.

The loan according to Wetkas was scheduled to be paid quarterly in five tranches, but instead, obtained additional loans from the bank and this resulted to restructuring of the loan.

Reading from Saraki’s GTB account statement (covering between 2005 and 2015) which has also been admitted by the CCT as Exhibit 7, Wetkas proved that Senator Saraki obtained three loans and this included: N380 million, N380 million and N400 million with the link to properties acquired by him.

The witness related: “In 2006, the balance was N9,779,109. 79m before the loan was credited. This first loan taken was used to pay the one before. The loan amount was N380m.

“The property it was used to buy was worth N256.3m. There was five per cent charge translated into N12,815,000. It was liquidated on February 5, 2007.

“When the loan was liquidated, it took the balance to a debit balance of N231,552,804.93. Then another loan was taken of N380m on the same February 5, 2007. The second loan was taken to defray the debit. It now gave a credit balance of N98m.

“As of the 2007 declaration, there was debit outstanding of the loan of up to N300m, which was not declared in 2007 declaration. There were other inflows into account the purposes of paying.

“On August 27, 2009, the balance on the account shows an inflow into the account of N100m through banker’s cheque. On July 31, 2009, it shows that the account was in debit of about N93,933,654.15.

“After the inflow of N100m on August 27, it went into credit balance of N6,066,345.6. On April 30, 2009, the account was in debit position of N17m. The on the same date, there was loan disbursement of N400m.”

The Senate President prosecution before Justice Danladi Umaru-led CCT which started 2015, bothers on 16 counts, which include alleged false and anticipatory asset declaration, between 2003 and 2011, when he served as the Governor of his State.

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