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Witness Claims Saraki Used Own Company to Hide Assets in Maitama

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, purchased a property in Maitama, Abuja, in 1993, but failed to declare it in 2003 when he submitted his assets declaration form as a newly-sworn in governor in Kwara State, prosecutors told the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Wednesday.

Following a week’s break, Mr. Saraki’s alleged false and anticipatory assets declaration trial resumed Wednesday before Justice Danladi Umar and his co-chairman, Williams Atedze, with the cross-examination of star prosecution witness, Michael Wetkas.

Mr. Wetkas said in 1993, Mr. Saraki purchased the property at Plot 2482 Cadastral Zone, Maitama District, Abuja, using Carlisle Properties Limited, one of his companies, but the nation’s number one lawmaker failed to declare it in 2003 and subsequent times he completed the form while holding different positions in government.

“Saraki on 16 September, 2003, did not declare a property he purchased in Maitama, Abuja, in 1993,” Mr. Wetkas said.

Defence counsel, Paul Usoro, who led Mr. Wetkas in his testimony, said there were discrepancies in the property’s address.

“We’re yet to confirm if the property is actually located at Plot 2482 or Plot 2481,” he said.

Mr. Usoro also said Mr. Saraki’s name was not listed as the owner of the company.

“Was the name of the defendant listed as the owner of Carlisle Property Nigeria Limited, the company through which property was allegedly bought?” Mr. Usoro queried.

Mr. Wetkas responded by saying Mr. Saraki’s name was not on it, but that his wife was a shareholder in the company and, as such, should have listed it in assets declaration documents.

“No, but the defendant’s wife is a shareholder in the company. She told us the defendant is the owner of the company,” Mr. Wetkas said.

During the trial, the prosecution and defence teams sparred over the amount of time it’s taking for Mr. Wetkas to be cross-examined.

Lead prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs, said Mr. Saraki’s team is deliberately raising questions that are inconsequential to the trial in order to “let this matter drag for long until the man’s tenure ends”.

Mr. Usoro, denied the allegations, saying the judicial process allows for the defence and prosecution to grill witnesses extensively.

“They have no right to tell me what to ask the witness and for how long,” Mr. Usoro said. “They should give us enough time to ask their witnesses questions and we will also give them all the time they need to cross-examine our witnesses.”

Mr. Umar adjourned the trial till Wednesday, June 1, 2016.

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