The Federal Government, yesterday, re-arraigned the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, in Abuja, on an amended 18-count corruption charge.
Saraki pleaded not guilty to the fresh charge, even as the tribunal headed by Justice Danladi Umar, gave the third prosecution witness, PW-3, Mr. Samuel Madujemu, the nod to narrate how the Federal Government uncovered discrepancies in assets he declared to the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB.
The witness is the Chief Admin Officer at the CCB. He was the head of investigation division under the Department of Intelligence, Investigation and Monitoring, that joined the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to probe Saraki’s assets.
It will be recalled that the Senate President was initially docked before the tribunal on September 22, 2015, on a 13-count charge.
He was later re-arraigned on April 28, 2016 after Federal Government increased charges against him to 16 counts.
In the amended charge read to the defendant, yesterday, the Federal Government alleged that he had, while in office as governor of Kwara State in 2007, failed to declare his interest in 15, McDonald, Ikoyi, Lagos, a property he acquired in 2006 through a company, Tiny Tee Limited, for the sum of N165 million.
It said the defendant, on or about September 16, 2003, while in office as a governor, made false declaration by claiming ownership of 15A & 15B, McDonald, Ikoyi, Lagos through Carlisle Properties Ltd in the year 2000, when the said property was in actual fact sold by the Federal Government to G & C Real Estate Properties and Investment Company Limited in 1997 for the sum of N12 million.
The defendant was also accused of failing to declare his ownership of Plot 2A, Glover Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, which he acquired between 2007 and 2008 through Carlisle Properties Ltd from the Central Bank of Nigeria for the sum of N325 million, as well as not declaring that 1 and 3, Tagus Street Maitama, Abuja belongs to him.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, the witness told the tribunal that Saraki had in his capacity as a governor, made several cash lodgements running into billions of Naira into his personal accounts.
He said the cash lodgements were in excess of Saraki’s salary as a governor.
Asked if public officers are permitted by the law to operate private business ventures, the witness said: “My lord, public officers are only entitled to engage in farming. Governors are not permitted to engage in sales of rice and sugar.”