•Prosecution witness disowns documents tendered against Senate President
From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Embattled Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, yesterday, dared the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) as he held up proceeding for over two hours to preside over senate plenary.
Saraki, who is undergoing criminal trial over alleged under-declaration of assets when he held sway as governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011, was expected to appear in person at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) at about 10.am.
Chairman of CCT, Justice Danladi Umar, had ruled on Monday that the Senate president’s trial would henceforth commence at 10am and end at 6pm daily.
Saraki who had promised that the trial would not affect the smooth running of the Senate called the Red Chamber to order at about 10.30am, presided for about an hour and then left at about 11.31am to attend his trial. Saraki, accompanied by his colleagues arrived the tribunal at 11:55 am.
But in what could be described as a retaliation or power show, the tribunal chairman also refused to commence trial until one hour, forty minutes after the arrival of Saraki, without any explanation or excuse.
The tribunal also declined request by Saraki for a one-week adjournment insisting that trial must continue on day-to-day basis in line with its earlier ruling. Tribunal Chairman, said the decision of the tribunal was in line with the provisions of section 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
At the resumed hearing yesterday, a star witness, Mr. Michael Wetkas admitted that Saraki declared his assets before and after his tenure as Governor of Kwara State.
He specifically admitted under cross-examination that the Senate president submitted his assets declaration form to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) in 2003 during his first tenure as Governor of Kwara State and it was stamped by the Bureau confirming that he declared his assets. He further admitted that upon assumption of office for the second term in 2007, Saraki also declared his assets and his assets declaration form was duly stamped by the CCB.
Wetkas also confirmed that in 2011, the Senate president equally declared his assets at the end of his second term as the governor of Kwara State.
The witness, who was cross-examined by Kanu Agabi (SAN), admitted that none of the petitions investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had anything to do with the assets declaration by Saraki.
He also told the tribunal that he was not part of the team that investigated petitions bordering on borrowings by the Kwara State government, alleged misappropriation of monthly revenue account of the 16 local government councils in the state and fraud in operation of Shongai Farms Holdings Limited.
Both petitions dated June 7, 2012, May 2, 2012, were written after Saraki had left office.
Wetkas who is an investigator also admitted that he did not investigate the petitions in Exhibits 11, 12 and 13.
Exhibit 11 dated May 22, 2012 contained a petition written by Kwara Freedom Network inviting the EFCC to investigate the Kwara State Universal Basic Education Board.
Wetkas had while giving evidence in chief told the tribunal that the petition by the Kwara Freedom Network propelled their investigation.
He however turned around during cross-examination to said that his team did not investigate the petition.
Exhibit 12 which was dated May 7, 2011 was addressed to the Chairman of the EFCC asking the anti-graft agency to investigate the state government on borrowings for projects described as phoney.
Exhibit 13 however was a petition dated June 7, 2012, which was about mismanagement of local government revenue in Kwara state between 2003 and 2011.
When asked whether in the course of investigation, he had audience with the Accountant General of Kwara State, the witness said he did not as that was not part of his assignment.
Asked whether he got another written document to buttress the petition written by Kwara Freedom Network, the witness said he did not.
When further asked why he tendered documents he did not investigate, the witness said he did not tender the exhibits on his own but were tendered through him by the Prosecution.
Also under cross-examination, the witness admitted that investigating the assets declaration of the defendant did not form part of his schedule of duty.
He added that there was nowhere in the petition they investigated where Saraki’s asset declaration was in contention.
He further added that the investigation of the defendant was based on intelligence report obtained by the former chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde and not the three petitions tendered as exhibits.
FG loses bid to try Dasuki in secret
From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday turned down the request by the Federal Government to conduct secret trial of former National security Adviser, Colonel Muhammad Sambo Dasuki (rtd) in the charges of unlawful possession of firearm and money laundering brought against him in September 2015.
The court held that there was no need for the proposed witnesses to give their evidence under masked with pseudo names and addresses for the purpose of facilitating their protection as requested by government.
Besides, Justice Ademola further held that the Federal Government had in the charge against Dasuki listed the names and addresses of 11 witnesses to be called to testify against him and made same available to the general public and as such there was no basis for any hide and seek game in the trial.
In the application that was rejected, government had also requested the court to exclude members of the public except lawyers involved in the trial and accredited journalists.
Justice Ademola said there was no basis to grant the request of government to make the witnesses wear special mask, bear pseudo names and addresses because the charges were not terrorism charges and that there was no information that the life of any of the witnesses billed to be called was being threatened by anybody of group.