Saraki Lied Over Lagos Property- Witness

Ebun Francis with agency report

Michael Wetkas, the principal prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki at the code of conduct tribunal, Abuja on monday informed the court that Saraki used series of loans from Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), not the proceeds of his crop sales, as claimed, to finance two properties he acquired in 2006 in Ikoyi, Lagos.

The witness,reading from a bank statement of the accused between the period 2005 and 2015 which had been admitted by the CCT as an exhibit, said that Saraki obtained three loans – N380m, N380m and N400m – to finance the properties, which are located at 17A and B, McDonald Street in the highbrow area.

“In 2006, the balance was N9,779,109.79m before the loan was credited,” Mr. Wetkas said.  “This first loan taken was used to pay the one before. The loan amount was N380m.  The property it was used to buy was worth N256.3m. There was five per cent charge translated into N12,815,000.”

He further informed the court that the loan was liquidated on February 5, 2007, leaving a debit balance of N231,552,804.93.

“Then another loan was taken of N380m on the same February 5, 2007.  The second loan was taken to defray the debit.  It now gave a credit balance of N98m.”

Saraki is facing charges of false, anticipatory and improper declaration of assets he is alleged to have acquired during his eight years as governor of Kwara State, from 2003-2011.  The CCT opened the day with the prosecution cross-examining Mr. Wetkas for the 13th day.

Defense lawyer Paul Usoro began by asking Mr. Wetkas to read from Mr. Saraki’s asset declaration forms, as previously admitted into evidence by the tribunal.

In the Declaration dated June 3, 2011, which Saraki submitted at the end of his second term, he declared that he acquired the Ikoyi properties in 2006—as well as five others in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1996 and 2000—with funds, he obtained from selling rice and sugar.

In his declaration dated July 11, 2007, submitted between his two terms, Saraki stated that he acquired the properties through loans of N497m.

Mr. Wetkas explained that originally, the loan Mr. Saraki obtained was to have been paid in five tranches, but that the governor then arranged the succeeding loans to take care of the first.

“As of the 2007 declaration, there was debit outstanding of the loan of up to 300m which was not declared in 2007 declaration,” he said.  “There were other inflows into account [for] the purposes of paying.  On August 27, 2009, the balance on the account shows an inflow into the account of N100m through banker’s cheque.  On July 31, 2009, it shows that the account was in debit of about N93,933,654.15.  After the inflow of N100m on August 27, it went into credit balance of N6,066,345.6.  On April 30, 2009, the account was in a debit position of N17m.  Then on the same date, there was loan disbursement of N400m.” the witness concluded.