The Code of Conduct Tribunal sitting in Abuja was yesterday informed that the undeclared properties in the assets declaration forms which led to the arraignment of the Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki before the tribunal by the federal government were purchased and maintained by a private company, Carlisle Property and Investment Nigeria Limited.
A loan of N4 billion was said to have been obtained from Guaranty Trust Bank and used to purchase the properties located in Lagos and Abuja.
A prosecution witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Minister Michael Wetcass, who led the EFCC team that investigated the assets of Saraki, disclosed this to the tribunal in Abuja yesterday.
He said that one of the properties located at 17 and 17A McDonald road, Ikoyi, Lagos was purchased from the loan at N497millon in 2006, while the one at 2A, Glover Road, Ikoyi, was bought for N325 million between 2007 and 2008 from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The witness, who was led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, alleged that the Senate President had interest in the company, which he also declared in his the assets declaration form.
Wetcass informed the tribunal that investigation of Saraki assets followed various petitions, one of which came from Kwara Freedom Network, alleging abuse of office, misappropriation of public funds, and money laundering against the former Kwara State governor.
The witness told the tribunal how the then chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde ordered the investigation of the Senate President’s assets based on an intelligence report he allegedly received.
Apart from Carlisle company, the witness further said that Skyview Property Limited, Limkers Nigeria Limited, and Tillytee also purchased and maintained properties, as well as maintained accounts with Guaranty Trust Bank, Zenith Bank and the defunct Intercontinental Bank, now Access Bank.
Besides the property, he said that the defendant maintained three accounts with GTB known as naira currency account, dollar currency account and pounds sterling account.
The witness insisted that cash flow into the account was basically used for acquisition of properties.
On the dollar account, the witness said that the major source of cash flow into the account was from Carlisle Property which is about $2million dollars and that other sources of inflow into the account were from Bureau de change company and lodgments by various individuals.
The witness claimed that part of the fund in the dollar account was used to purchase properties in London.
Wetcass told the tribunal that lodgments to the company’s account were done by some of the aides of the former Kwara State governor and that some of the aides could not be located by the EFCC to give details on the lodgment.
The witness claimed that the report of the anti-graft agency was submitted to the Federal Ministry of Justice which later referred the report to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) for further investigation because the findings bothered mainly on properties that were not declared in the assets form.
As a follow-up, Wetcass told the tribunal that the operatives from EFCC, CCB, and ICPC constituted another probe panel which analysed the 6 assets declaration forms submitted by the former Kwara State governor to the CCB.
In their findings, the witness said that the five properties purchased and maintained by Carlisle properties and investment limited located at Ikoyi in Lagos and Maitama in Abuja were not captured in the assets forms submitted to CCB by Saraki.
The six assets declaration forms submitted to CCB by Saraki and analysed by the EFCC probe panel were tendered and admitted as exhibits by chairman of the tribunal Mr. Danladi Yukubu Umar.
Saraki’s counsel, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN, however, reserved his objection on the admissibility of the Assets forms till later.
The tribunal has adjourned till today for continuation of trial, as it refused to grant Saraki’s application for adjournment on grounds that the new Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 did not encourage that.
Reacting to his trial, the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki yesterday expressed satisfaction with the commencement of his trial before the CCT on asset declaration in 2003.
Source: Leadership Newspaper