EFCC Witness Admits Abuja Property Belongs to Company, Not Saraki

  • But insists company belongs to senate president

Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

Micheal Wetkas, the prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for alleged false asset declaration wednesday resumed his testimony.

While answering questions during cross-examination, the witness admitted that there were no documents linking Saraki’s name directly to property located in Maitama district of Abuja.

Wetkas, who was cross-examined by the defence counsel, Paul Usoro (SAN), was asked about property located at Plot 2481 Cadastral Zone and 2482 Cadastral Zone allegedly owned by Saraki, Wetkas read a letter from Abuja Metropolitan Management Agency which stated that the property was transferred to Carlisle Properties and Investment Limited via a power of attorney.

The witness said the power of attorney was made in 1992, 10 years before Saraki became governor of Kwara State.
He said the power of attorney was issued between one David Baba Akawo and Allied Properties Limited, and that Saraki’s personal name never appeared on any of the document relating to the transactions on the Abuja property.
When the defence counsel, Usoro, put it to the witness that Carlisle Investments was different from the defendant as a person, the witness said “even though the documentation is in the name of Carlisle Properties and Investment Limited, we believe that the property belongs to the defendant because the company belongs to him.”

On the ownership of Carlisle Investment Company Limited, whose certificate of incorporation was tendered before the tribunal, the witness said that Saraki’s name was never mentioned in the ownership of the firm.
The witness said the names on the certificate of incorporation were Oluwatoyin Ojora and Barbs Trading and Manufacturing Limited.

He said the two owners were allotted ten thousand shares each.
When asked to point out Saraki’s name in the certificate of incorporation of Carlisle Nigeria Limited obtained at the Corporate Affairs Commission by the EFCC, Wetkas simply told the tribunal that he could not see the name of Saraki on the certificate.

Usoro observed that the Certificate of Incorporation of Barbs Trading and Manufacturing Limited alleged to belong to Saraki was not tendered in evidence, the witness said that CAC was still searching for it.
And when asked to tender the letter written by the EFCC to CAC requesting for that certificate, he told the tribunal that the letter was also not available.

When it was 4p.m., the lead counsel to the defence, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN) asked the court for an adjournment but the request was opposed by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) who said they had spent 10 days in cross-examining the witness.

This position infuriated a member of the tribunal Mr. Williams Atedze who urged Jacob to be considerate to the bench.

He reminded him that the court had to wait additional one hour for him and his witness to arrive and when it was time to adjourn, he suddenly remembered that he had to conclude the trial.
Jocabs however explained that his witness had been in the box for 11 days, noting that it was the longest cross-examination he has ever witnessed.

He also said when he came in the morning, he was told that the court had stood down the matter at the instance of the defence counsel.

Jacobs was reminded that the law did not put limitation on the time a witness should be cross-examined.
Agabi said caution should be made not to convict an innocent person as the prosecution wanted the defendant to be convicted instantly.

“It is the duty of the defendant counsel to prevent it and ensure that the prosecution witness is thoroughly cross examined in the interest of justice,” Agabi added.
The trial has been adjourned to June 1.