Michael Wetkas, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) first prosecution witness in the trial of the Senate President Bukola Saraki over false assets declaration, insisted that Saraki continued to receive salary from Kwara state coffers even after he ceased to be governor of the state.
He stated this while being cross examined by one of the counsel to Saraki, Paul Usoro (SAN).
The proceedings ended a 14-day long cross-examination of the first prosecution witness which spanned over 5 months.
Saraki, a two-term former Governor of Kwara State, is on trial over alleged falsification of assets and anticipatory declaration of assets before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Abuja.
At the resumed sitting, the witness told the tribunal that as at September 16, 2015, when the Access Bank Plc account Saraki used for his governorship salary and pension was closed, it had a debit balance of N599, 091.63, and that the account had a balance of N52, 372, 417 as at June 3, 2015.
The witness said investigations revealed that Saraki’s salary as a governor in 2007 was N254, 412. 25; N29 134 as at May 2011, and increased to N572, 236.32 in June the same year.
He said: “On August 29, 2011, there was another payment into the account by order of Kwara State government for N744, 002. “On September 29, 2011, the salary was N743, 902. 33; October 27, 2011, N, 165, 466.12 and the same amount was also paid to the defendant in November and December 28, 2011.
“The same N, 165, 466.12 was paid to the defendant as salary on February 1, 2012. Payment of salary into the account stopped on August 31, 2015.
“Funds that entered into this account was from the Kwara State government. The salary and pension that was later paid into the account, the balance as at June 3, 2015, was N52, 372, 417.
“On June 3, there was a transfer from the account in the sum of N25 million to Guarantee Trust Bank, GTB, leaving the account in debit balance of N2,628,632.39. There was also debit transfer of N30 million to GTB from this salary account of the defendant in Access Bank.
“At the closing of the account on September 16, 2015, it was in a debit balance of N599, 091.63.” Giving a chronological account of financial activities of the defendant, the witness said:
“There was N10 million cash lodgement by Abdul, who was personal assistant to the defendant. On March 24, 2005, there was another transaction by the same Abdul to the tune of N8.24 million. On March 29, 2006, there was transaction of N200.640 million in favour of Implementation Committee on the sale of government properties. It was a bank draft.
“On the same March 29, 2006, there was also credit disbursement of loan in favour of the defendant to the tune of N200 million, which preceded the bank draft. On the same day, there was another loan disbursement of N380 million from GTB.
At the resumed hearing, Usoro announced that the defence has come to an end of the cross-examination of the witness after about 30 minutes of further cross examination.
He expressed that the length of the cross-examination was not to buy time or delay proceedings but was dictated by the complexity of the case.
Prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) had at the previous proceedings complained that the defendant was taking much time for the cross-examination.
The cross-examination started June before the judiciary vacation, he had noted.
However, while responding to a question Wetkas said he did not investigate the account of Kwara state government.
He also confirmed that he did not speak to the defendant throughout his investigation.
While adjourning the matter, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Danladi Umar, said the Tribunal would not be able to continue with the case this year because of its busy schedule.
He adjourned the matter to January 11th, 2017 for possible re-examination of the witness by the prosecution and continuation of trial.