Confusion over Ownership of Houses Allegedly Bought by Saraki


Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

There was lack of clarity wednesday at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over the ownership of properties alleged to have been bought by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, from the federal government.

Under cross-examination, the prosecution witness, Mr. Michael Wetkas, told the tribunal that the houses sold to Saraki were privately owned.

This was contrary to the claim by the witness that the properties were bought from the Presidential Implementation Committee for the Sales of Government Houses.

Continuing with the cross-examination, the defence counsel, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), urged the witness to read aloud, a letter from one of the bidders of the said property to the committee, indicating that the numbering of the properties were ambiguous.

According to the letters, the properties were labelled 15a MacDonald Street, Ikoyi, 15b, MacDonald Street, Ikoyi and Block 15, McDonald Street, Ikoyi, behind another plot of land labelled No. 15 Macdonald Street, Ikoyi.

When asked whether the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) invited the writer of the letter, Energy Marine Limited, to explain the content, he answered no.

On whether he visited the properties to ascertain the discrepancies in the numbers of the properties, he said he did not but that other members of the team did and reported back to him.

Answering another question, a member of CCT panel asked the witness how he came to the conclusion that 15a and 15b are same as No. 15 and Block 15, MacDonald Street. He said he was not conversant with how properties are number but as investigator, he often relied on the replies from the Lagos Land Registry and the Presidential Committee.
The witness said the presidential committee on sale of government property wrote to say that 15 A, 15 B and one behind the 15 were same.

He said he did not ask the committee on the sale to show him the properties because there was no need.
The witness said he was aware that under the Land Use Act, all land belongs to the government.

He insisted that the 2006 team investigation report stated that 15A and 15 B belonged to Saraki
In an answer to another question on whether the committee listed 15 Macdonald Street, Ikoyi, Lagos, the witness said there was nothing in the list like 15A and 15B.

The matter was adjourned to next week Tuesday for continuation of cross-examination.