CCT: Evidence against Saraki destroyed in fire incident – Witness

The prosecution witness and an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Michael Wetkas, in the ongoing trial of the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, stunned everyone at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) yesterday when he said part of the evidence against the Senate President had been destroyed in a fire incident.

The witness also admitted before the tribunal that Senator Bukola was not investigated on assets declaration before bringing him on trial.

The witness told the tribunal chairman, Mr. Danladi Umar that Saraki was only investigated through his bank accounts on money laundering.

Wetkas, who was cross-examined by Saraki’s counsel, Paul Usoro, SAN, also told the tribunal that though, Saraki was charged with foreign accounts operation, the EFCC never had the opening package and financial statement of the alleged foreign account.

During the trial yesterday, the witness also said though he led the team that investigated Saraki, he never met Saraki for interrogation or obtaining statement from him.

Specifically, Wetkas was cross examined based on count 11 of the charge which bothered on foreign accounts operation when Saraki was the governor of Kwara State.

He admitted the count did not bother on assets declaration, but money laundering.

Answering questions on the alleged transfer of funds into foreign accounts by Saraki, the witness said that some documents and telex relating to the transfer of funds from Saraki’s GTB account to foreign banks had been burnt.

He further told the tribunal that the bank sworn to an affidavit and obtained a police statement in respect that there was an inferno and part of the documents burnt were Saraki’s relating to the foreign transfer.

He further told the tribunal that the bank told him there was a fire, but quickly recounted that he would not want to commit himself as to whether there was a fire or otherwise.

He, however, said he believed that there was fire incident and the burnt documents formed part of the documents which the bank sworn an affidavit to.

When Wetkas was asked to show the tribunal a copy of the affidavit, he said he could not find it.

When asked which bank issued the foreign account to the defendant, he responded that it was American Express Bank, New York and that it was an existing bank.

He, however, admitted that he did not find out the country of incorporation but he knew that the bank existed through open source information.

Cross-examined further, the witness admitted that the name of the beneficiary bank in the document he submitted to the tribunal upon his investigation was different from the bank he mentioned under cross examination.

The document submitted to the tribunal had indicated Standard Chatered Bank, New York as the beneficiary and not American Express Bank, New York as earlier testified.

He informed the tribunal that the two banks were agents, but when asked to show from the face of the document where it was written that the banks were agents, the witness said he could not find such.

Meanwhile, Senator Bukola Saraki has accused the chairman of CCT, Mr. Danladi Yakubu Umar of being bias, adding that he doubted if he would get justice under his chairmanship.

Saraki in a motion he filed against Umar, prayed that the CCT boss to disqualify himself from further participating in his trial on the alleged falsification.

In the motion on notice filed by Saraki’s lawyer, Mr. Raphael Oluyede, it was contended that the continued presence of Umar on the panel of the Tribunal offended the provisions of Section 36(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The constitutional provision prescribes that “In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.”

No date has been fixed for hearing of the motion.