A prosecution witness on Wednesday told the Code of Conduct Tribunal that Senate president, Bukola Saraki, continued to receive salary and pension four years after leaving office as governor of Kwara State on May 29, 2011.
Mr. Saraki is facing a 13-count charge of false asset declaration and other financial misappropriation at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Testifying against the Senate president in the ongoing trial, the witness, Michael Wetkast, said the EFCC demanded details of his (Mr. Saraki) salary account during investigations and discovered that he received regular salaries after the expiration of his tenure on May 29, 2011.
“His salary for June was N291,412:75k, while that of July, August and September were N572,286:32k, N744,000 and N743,942 respectively,” Mr. Wetkast said.
“Mr. Saraki also received the sums of N1,165,488 between the months of October and February 2012.”
Since that time, Mr. Wetkast said the Senate president received his salaries and pensions regularly till 31, August 2015, before the payments stopped.
Earlier, Mr. Wetkast tendered statements from the various bank accounts said to have been maintained by Mr. Saraki.
Mr. Wetkast also told the tribunal that the statements were contained in a letter dated February 10, 2010.
He added that the letters were a response to the request made by the EFCC while investigating the allegations against Mr. Saraki.
He said the EFCC made a request for Mr. Saraki’s personal naira account statement with number: 0034967455.
Mr. Wetkast said further that the response to that request included details of the three accounts maintained by the accused.
The tribunal heard that Mr. Saraki maintained three accounts in Nigerian currency, United States dollars and British pound sterling.
The prosecution witness said the response to the request for details of Mr. Saraki ‘s naira account came with the old account number: 441441953/1/1/0 of the said account just as the pound sterling account with the number: 441441953/3/1/0 and the United States dollar account with the number 0034967479 were provided by Guarantee Trust Bank.
He added that an attached copy of the Certificate of Identification and Statement of Account was also included in the response of the GTB, in pursuant of Section 84 of the Evidence Act, 2011.
The responses provided by the GTB were admitted in evidence as Exhibit 9.
Explaining the various cash inflow and outflow relating to the accounts, Mr. Wetkast said at various intervals, deposits were made into Mr. Saraki’s account after loans of various amounts had been taken by Mr. Saraki.
“On March 23rd 2010, cash lodgment of N10million was made by Mr. Saraki, while other sums of N240million and N200million were disbursed to the account as loans for the purchase of properties by an implementation committee under the Kwara State government,” Mr. Wetkast stated.
He said on October 16, 2006, another disbursement of N280 million was said to have been made, along with a bank draft in favour of the said “implementation committee”.
These followed various other sums including the sum of N380 million, N180, 675, 000, among others, which were collected as loans from the GTB for the purchase of landed properties, said the witness.
The prosecution witness also explained that various amounts of money were sometimes deposited into Mr. Saraki’s account in one day.
He said on April 7, 2007, N11million, was paid into the account with N20million also paid in three tranches and an additional 6 million, making N77million.
The witness said further that on November 22, 2007 cash lodgements were made into Mr. Saraki’s account in 50 different transactions.
He said on October 26, 2009, cash deposits were made by several individuals – numbering 87 cash deposits in all – into one of Mr. Saraki’s account.
“On 18th May 2009, $20,000 was deposited into one of Mr. Saraki’s account separately, while additional $8, 000 and $4,000 were deposited separately by different individuals,” said Mr. Wetkast.
He added that on May 19, 2009 $10, 000 was lodged into Mr. Saraki’s account in 18 different transactions, with the last three transactions made by Mr. Saraki himself.
The funds were mostly used for the purchase of properties, particularly in Lagos and Maitama area of Abuja.
Mr. Wetkast said the EFCC received four different petitions from Kwara Freedom Network with appeals to investigate the management of the monthly revenue account (within 2003-2011) of the 16 local government areas in Kwara State.
Another petition was also received from Concerned Pensioners of Nigeria, Kwara State Branch.
According to him, the investigations by the EFCC, and the details of the petitions showed the locations of some of the properties, one of which is located at 12A MacDonald Road Ikoyi, and purchased in March, 2000 in the name of Allied Property Ltd and valued at the cost of N160million.
The witness said the house was leased out at N7million per annum.
He also said another property was also bought by the Senate president at Number 17A MacDonald Road, Ikoyi, at the cost of N226,300,000.
He said letters were also written by the EFCC to the Corporate Affairs Commission, which were tendered in evidence as exhibits.
We didn’t pay Saraki after he left office as governor — Kwara Governor
The Kwara State Government has risen in defence of Mr. Saraki, against claims he received salary for four years after he served as governor of the state.
The government, in a statement its Secretary, Isiaka Gold, on Wednesday, denied the EFCC claims, saying it had only been paying Mr. Saraki’s pension since he left office.
The state government said the last amount it paid Mr. Saraki as salary was N291,474.00 meant for May, 2011 – his last month in office.
According to the statement, “From June 2011, former Governor Saraki started receiving his pension which was N578,188.00 as other past governors in the country.”
The statement added that “after the review of pensions of former political office holders by the State Pension Board, the former governor’s pension increased to N1,239,493.94 monthly from October 2014 to date.
“Kwara State Government, therefore, dismissed as false and misleading the allegation that former Governor Saraki was receiving salaries after the expiration of his two-term tenure as governor of the state.”
The statement “advised interested stakeholders to seek clarification from appropriate authority to avoid misleading the public.”
Similarly, the Director General of the Abubakar Bukola Saraki Constituency Office, otherwise known as Mandate, Abdulwahab Isa, explained that since the former governor left office in May 2011, “his pension which was paid into a special account has been managed by a group of trustees and used for education endowment for students across the state.”
The Code of Conduct Tribunal is trying Mr. Saraki for corruption charges brought against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau. (Premium Times)