Tuesday, 7 June 2016

NEWS:--+++How Senator Saraki fared at his CCT hearing

How Senator Saraki fared at
his CCT hearing


Senator Bukola Saraki on Tuesday,
June 7, returned to the Code of
Conduct Tribunal, where he has been
answering to allegation leveled against
him regarding false asset declaration.
Senate President Bukola Saraki at CCT hearing.
The Senate president’s trial at the Code of Conduct
Tribunal resumes after weeks of rescheduling at the
instance of prosecution team.
Sources reveal that the tribunal hopes this week to
conclude the cross-examination of prosecution
witness, Michael Wetkas.
The cross-examination began in April, a span that
prosecution team has continued to express its
dissatisfaction about.
Both teams are currently sparring over the
significance of questions being asked by the
defence.
Paul Usoro, counsel to Mr. Saraki, has been grilling
Mr. Wetkas, an EFCC official, for weeks, over
evidences he tendered against the top lawmaker
before the court.
Below are updates of how Nigeria’s no 3 man fared
at thge CCT today.
At about 13.14pm:
Kanu Agabi the lead counsel to Saraki requested an
adjournment to allow him see his doctor. The
tribunal weighed an adjournment for another week,
maybe next Wednesday.
Mr Jacobs strongly objects this, saying the court
should finish with Mr Wetkas this week as planned.
“Take it easy and understand that you
can’t overrule the court, Rotimi” said
William Atedze, co-chair of the tribunal. “If any
of us drops dead now, this trial would
continue it.”
The defence, prosecution and the tribunal chairmen
weighed the option of adjourning.
Mr. Agabi said Mr Jacob used to be his boy back in
the day and that they’ve eaten from the same pot
before.
12.59:
Cross-examination of Mr. Wetkas continues over the
discrepancies in the Maitama property Saraki was
alleged to have purchased in 1993 but which he
allegedly failed to declare in 2003 when he
became governor in Kwara.
12.42:
A chairman of the tribunal, Mr. Umar, is angry over
“rude” comments by senators and other supporters of
Saraki. The individuals, seated in the court gallery,
had repeatedly asked Rotimi Jacobs, prosecution
counsel, to “sit down”.
This infuriated Mr. Umar, who said the senate
president’s supporters’ conduct was becoming
unbearable in his court, warning that they should
“keep quiet”.
“If I hear anybody ask the counsel to sit
down, I will deal with the person and
nobody can question me about it. In fact,
I will hold the person in contempt and
sentence the person to hard labour and
nobody will question me,” Mr Umar warned.
Senator Saraki at one of his appearance at the CCT.




The Cross-examination of star prosecution witness,
Michael Wetkas, which has been underway for over a
month, contined with tribunal chairman, Danladi
Umar, having taken his seat at 12:20 p.m. No
reason was given for this delay.
Michael Wetkas, a detective of the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was absent at
the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Rotimi Jacobs, lead counsel to the federal
government asked that the court stall the trial for
the witness to arrive .
Danladi Umar, the CCT chairman, however ruled that
the court stands down for an hour for his arrival,
subsequently adjourned sitting till 1:00pm.
13:53pm
The tribunal chairman is back on seat at 1:40pm.,
40 minutes late.
Mr Wetkas arrived and the cross-examination has
finally resumed.
Defence counsel, Paul Usoro, is questioning Mr.
Wetkas on count number 6 of the prosecution
charges.
The count has to do with a property located at
Maitama, Abuja, which Mr. Saraki owned but
allegedly failed to declare in 1993.
14:47pm
Mr Usoro is still leading Mr. Wetkas in cross-
examination. The current issue is about a property
Mr. Saraki allegedly purchased in 1993 but failed
to declare in his assets declaration form in 2003
when he became governor of Kwara state.
There is a disagreement over where the property is
situated and if Mr. Saraki owned it.
Usoro is grilling Mr Wetkas about if the property is
at Plot 2481 Cadastral Zone or 2482 Cadastral
Zone.
Wetkas read a letter from Abuja Metropolitan
Management Agency which informed the EFCC that
the property was transferred to Saraki using a power
of attorney.
Usoro then attempted to ask further questions about
the property, but the tribunal chairman weighed in:
“You’re making the records untidy,” Mr. Umar chided
Mr. Usoro.
15:13pm
Usoro said the power of attorney was made in 1993,
10 years before Mr. Saraki became governor. He said
the power of attorney was issued between one David
Baba Akao and Allied Properties Ltd, a company that
Saraki allegedly owned.
Dino Melaye, Rafiu Ibrahim and seven other senators
are here with their president for today’s hearing,
which makes is 21st day of the trial.
Saraki’s trial, legal experts say, is one of the
biggest in the history of Nigeria. The sitting on
Wednesday, May 18, made it the 20th day the
tribunal has sat on the Senate president’s case.
Below is a run down of how that sitting went.
12:54pm
Mr Agabi entered the courtroom at 12:30 p.m., but
Mr. Umar is not there to resume.
14:12pm
Justice Danladi Umar has taken his seat, an hour
later than the 12:30 he adjourned to for Mr. Agabi
to arrive.
The cross examination of Mr Wetkas then continued.


14:40
Defence counsel, Mr Usoro, is still poring through
exhibits 8 and 9 as submitted to the court by Mr
Wetkas.
The two are dissecting the documents which deal
with Mr Saraki’s transfer of funds from different
accounts in both local and foreign currencies.
It’s still part of the cross-examination stage of Mr
Wetkas, an EFCC official who is the star prosecution
witness.
Wetkas in his testimony on Wednesday, giving
details of how his investigative team uncovered a
property in London owned by Saraki.
Wetkas, who said he led a team which investigated
intelleigence reports leading to the charges
preferre against Saraki, is a detective with the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
He said under cross-examination that the London
property was acquired by Saraki in 2010 but was not
declared in his asset declaration form which he
submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau after
completing his second term as Governor of Kwara
State in 2011.
He said Saraki obtained N375m loan from the
Guaranty Trust Bank Plc in 2010 and used it to pay
for the London property through a mortgage
redemption payment system.
He said there was debit entry of $1.2m on the
dollar account in favour of the pounds sterling
account on February 10, 2010 and $1m on February
15, 2010. He alleged that as contained in Count 11
in the charges preferred against the Senate
president, Saraki failed to declare in his asset
declaration form which he submitted to the CCB in
2011, the N375m loan as his liability  and the
property which he allegedly used the proceeds of
the loan to buy.
Wetkas who was led by Usoro to read from Saraki’s
statements of account with with with GTB, traced
the movement of the loan disbursed in Saraki’s
naira account with its dollar equivalent transferred
to his dollar account and finally its pounds sterling
equivalent transferred transferred Saraki’s pounds
sterling account.
He said foreign investigative partners “unofficially”
disclosed the address of the property as No 8,
Whittaker Street, London and that it had a title
number NGN802235.
He noted the foreign partners also disclosed
“unofficially” that Saraki acquired another property
with title numbe NGN 802661at No 7 of the same
street in London in 2015.
According to him, his team of investigators,
discovered Saraki’s reason for obtaining the loan in
the letter by the GTB offering the N370m loan to
the Senate President.
He also said the telex message also revealed that
the transfer was for the purchase of a property.
The prosecution is clearly uncomfortable with the
progress of the trial so far. Rotimi Jacobs, lead
prosecutor, is prevailing on the tribunal chairman not
to allow defence team to continue to bring
frivolities into the courtroom.
Mr Rotimi said the defence team should not be
asking questions that have to do with house
numbering because officials from land register
department are still coming to testify.
He also said the number of lawyers that should be
allowed to cross-examine Mr. Wetkas should be
restricted, a request Mr Umar has granted. Mr Usoro
has been the only one cross-examining Mr Wetkas
since last week, out of almost 79 lawyers lined up
by Saraki.
16.03:
Mr Umar has adjourned hearing till Wednesday, May
25, for the continuation of cross-examination.
Premium Times reports that Danladi Umar, chairman
of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the special court
hearing the false and anticipatory assets
declaration charge against Saraki, had, last
Wednesday, adjourned hearing till Tuesday, May 17
to give both prosecution and defence teams some
time to “rest”.
At about 11:49 am on Tuesday
The defence attorney, Paul Usoro, and Mr Wetkas
continued from where they both left off last week
— the disagreement over the property at 15,
MacDonald Road, Ikoyi.
Irregularities spotted in the description of the
property is the crux of the exchanges. Prosecution
lead, Rotimi Jacobs, is bitter over the argument,
saying the trial cannot last forever.
He said the defence team is deliberately wasting
crucial time as part of its tactics to stall the trial.
Solidarity for the Senate President is unusually
small, only two senators are here, in addition to
Kawu Baraje, an APC chieftain


At 11:42am
The hearing proper continued with the cross-
examination of prosecution witness, Michael Wetkas.
11:41am
The tribunal argued about a story that has been
circulating online, alleging a division between the
chairman, Mr Umar, and his co-chairman, Phillip
Agwaza.
According to the report, Umar always disagrees with
Agwaza and that is why Agwaza always keeps quiet.
The judges deny the report, scolding the “layman”
news reporter.
Meanwhile, Danladi Umar said that only one lawyer
should cross examine the witness, Michael Wetkas.
He said the lawyer responsible for the cross
examination should be only Kanu Agabi, the lead
counsel to the Senate president.
Umar directed the defence counsel to restrict the
number of lawyers who would cross-examine the
prosecution witness to just one, saying that the
conduct of the cross-examination had been untidy
with the frequent change of lawyers by the defence
team.
However, the CCT chairman on Tuesday, May 10,
ruled in favor of Saraki, for the first time since
the commencement of the trial when he permitted
more than one lawyer to cross examine Wetkas. Paul
Erokoro, one of the counsel to Saraki asked that he
wanted to cross examine Wetkas, who is also
Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
detective but Rotimi Jacobs, the lead counsel to
the federal government objected to his request.
Saraki during one of his appearances at the CCT
Senator Saraki is facing a 16-count charge of fraud
levelled against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau
(CCB). The bureau had on September 16, 2015 filed
a 13-count charge against Saraki for alleged false
and anticipatory declaration of assets, but increased
the number to 15 on April 18 and added one more
charge on April 27.
After the charges were filed, the senate president
was invited to appear before the tribunal on
September 18.
In his reaction, Saraki approached the Federal High
Court on September 17 to block the trial describing
the charges as frivolous and politically motivated.
On September 18, Saraki failed to appear at the
CCT, causing the tribunal’s chairman, Danladi Umar,
to grant a request by the prosecution that Mr. Saraki
be arrested and forced to appear at the trial by the
next sitting on September 21.
Saraki’s lawyer, Joseph Daudu, had prayed the
court to adjourn till Mr. Saraki’s application was
determined at the Federal High Court, but the
tribunal held that the FHC could not stop the trial,
at the tribunal.
The Senate president further filed an ex-parte
motion containing 12 grounds of appeal at the
Appeal court, asking it to issue an order demanding
the CCT to revoke the bench warrant against him.
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He also asked the Appeal Court to compel the
tribunal to stay its proceedings pending the
determination of its applications at the higher
court.
On September 21, Saraki again failed to appear
before the tribunal, and explained that he would
only appear after the Court of Appeal ruled on his
applications.
The Court of Appeal presided by Justice Moore
Adumein, on the same day – September 21 –,
dismissed Saraki’s appeal on the grounds that the
court does not grant ex-parte motions.
Saraki was asked by the court to face his trial till
the determination of his application for stay of
proceedings.
On September 22, Saraki pleaded not guilty to his
charges and was granted bail on self-recognition.
The case was then adjourned till October 21.
On that date, the tribunal again adjourned till
November 5 to await the determination of other
aspects of Mr. Saraki’s applications at the Court of
Appeal.
Mr Adumein on October 30, dismissed the application
for stay of proceedings, for lacking in merit. But a
day before the commencement of his trial at the
CCT, Saraki approached the Supreme Court, with a
similar appeal, demanding that the tribunal be
prevented from continuing the trial.
On October 5, Saraki’s lawyers, Ahmed Magaji and
Ahmed Raji, withdrew their representation after a
failed attempt to compel the CCT to halt ther
trial, pending the determination of the fresh suit at
the Supreme Court.
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Senate president Bukola Saraki has also been named
in Panama Papers scandal.
The action of the two lawyers forced the tribunal
to adjourn till November, 19.
However, on November 12, however the Supreme
Court issued an order, restraining the tribunal from
continuing with the trial till the determination of
the application before the Supreme Court.
Subsequently, the tribunal adjourned its sittings
indefinitely. It however issued a statement after
the Supreme Court on February 5 ruled that Mr.
Saraki should return to the tribunal to continue his
trial.
In its statement, the CCT said it would continue with
the trial on March 10, but had to resume sitting
March 11, following a request from the defence
counsel.
On March 11, Saraki appeared at the tribunal with
65 lawyers led by Kanu Agabi, who took over from
Joseph Daudu.
Mr Agabi, a former Attorney General, tabled an
application before the tribunal chair, Danladi Umar,
asking him to rule on Saraki’s earlier motion,
challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal.
After the defence and prosecution counsel
deliberated on the fresh application, ruling was
reserved for March 18.
On the next adjourned date, Mr Saraki’s lead
counsel again prayed the tribunal to strike out the
charges against his client, describing it as invalid.
Agabi argued that the CCB aired when it failed to
allow Mr. Saraki the privilege of affirming or
denying his charges, before charging him.

The case was then adjourned till March 24 when
the tribunal, again, dismissed Mr. Saraki’s
applications for lacking in merit and ordered the
prosecution to commence its presentation of
witnesses on the next adjourned date.
Subsequently on April 5, prosecution witness, Michael
Wetkas, an operative of the EFCC began testifying
against Saraki.
Mr. Wetkas told the tribunal that Mr. Saraki
received salaries for four years after he stopped
being governor of Kwara State, in 2011.
He stated that Mr. Saraki maintained a foreign
account with the American Express Service, where he
transferred $73, 233: 28 from his Nigerian account
with the Guaranty Trust Bank.
On April 18, Mr. Saraki’s trial was slated to continue
on daily bases, while the Bureau amended his
charges with an additional two counts.
On April 28, Mr. Saraki pleaded not guilty to the
two new counts, as well as an additional count
added to the charge on April 27.
Saraki, whose applications were dismissed on April 15
and 25, respectively by the Federal High Court and
the Court of Appeal, also approached the Appeal
Court with another application on April 28 to contest
the decision of the tribunal to dismiss an
application by one of his counsels, Raphael
Oluyede, that Mr Umar should disqualify himself.
The tribunal fixed May 10 for the continuation of
Mr. Saraki’s trial, after dismissing the application
on April, 28.
Owing to the time which Saraki’s case has taken at
the CCT, a group called Integrity Advocacy Nigeria
led by one Tope Ajayi has raised several issues
pertaining the chairman of the Code of Conduct
Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar.
The group alleged that Saraki and his defence
team were being stampeded by Justice Umar, noting
that it will seem like they are fighting a lost
battle.
Justice Umar had insisted that the trial of Saraki
must proceed on a daily basis in accordance with the
provision of the Administration of Criminal Justice
(ACJA) which stipulates that once a trial
commences, it should proceed daily.
The group however, noted that two other cases
have come up since the Saraki’s trial began . The
case of the former minister of Niger Delta affairs,
Elder Godsday Orubebe and one Rasheed Taiwo, a
former customs officer are the cases.