Tuesday, May 17, 2016 5:40 pm
Micheal Wetkas, the first prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki on a 16 count charge of false assets declaration on Tuesday said there was no document indicating that the contentious property at 15 McDonald was owned by Bukola Saraki.
But the witness who was being cross examined on 16 count charges of false assets declaration by Paul Usoro, SAN said the position of the investigating team that the property belonged to Saraki was based on the fact that the payment for it was done through the account of companies linked to the Senate President.
The Federal Government had alleged that Saraki made anticipatory declaration of the property in the assets declaration form he filled on assumption of office by claiming he acquired them in year 2000 while the property was sold in 2006 by the Federal Government.
Specifically the Federal Government had alleged that Saraki while being Governor of Kwara State in 2003 made anticipatory claims to have bought 15A and 15 B McDonald, Ikoyi, in Lagos, whereas the same property known as no 15 and Block 15 Flat 1-4 was sold in 2008.
But the witness had earlier said Block 15 Flat 1 to 4 which was sold to one Bitti Oil has not yet been linked to Saraki.
Wetkas told the court on Tuesday in response to a question from Usoro, that his team did not contact the Federal Land Registry which keeps records for federal lands because it believed that the Committee set up by the Federal Government to sell its houses in Lagos has taken over all such information.
While the witness insisted during cross examination on Tuesday that No 15 A McDonald is just one property, the defence insisted that there are four properties that have 15 attached in their addresses.
Consequently, Usoro accused the prosecution of misrepresentation in filing the charges.
According to the defence lawyer, there was no 15A and 15b McDonald, Ikoyi which he said Saraki acquired in year 2000 and declared in the Assets declaration form he filled in 2003 on assumption of office as the Governor of Kwara State.
The prosecution counsel however replied that if there is any confusion, it was caused by Saraki himself who described it various way in his Assets Declaration Form.
But speaking further on why the No 15 was linked to Saraki in response to question from Usoro on whether his team has any document to prove that the Senate President is indeed the owner of the property, Wetkas said: “Our position was based on the fact that the payment for the house was by the defendant.
“It was paid for through the accounts of Carlie Ltd and Skyview Property which belonged to the defendant( Saraki) which he declared also as his companies.
“And I also said a loan of N125 million was taken from account of Skyview in Access Bank out of which N123 million which is the 75 per cent of cost of the property was paid.
“The offer letter for the loan was signed by the wife of the defendant on behalf of the company.
“The MD of Skyview Properties and Carlilie, Mr Sule Izuagbe I referred to earlier stated that all the transactions were directed by the defendant and he also mentioned that no 15 as one of the properties he is managing on behalf of the defendant.
“The defendant also declared no 15 in his 2011 Assets Declaration. That was our reason for forming the position that it belonged to the defendant.
Wetkas also told the Tribunal that the wife of the defendant had told the EFCC that the companies which bought the property belonged to her and her husband.
But the defence lawyer countered that the C of O was in the name of Tiny Tee, not in the name of Bukola Saraki to which the witness replied that the Senate President mentioned that he acquired the no 15A and B, McDonald Ikoyi in 2000 through his company, Carlie Property in his assets declaration form.
Mr. Umar adjourned proceedings to Wednesday following request by the defence team to be given 30 minutes to prepare for the continuation of the cross examination