Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Code Of Conduct Tribunal prosecuting the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on false asset declaration has been told that it is lawful for the Senate President to own shares in companies like any other public officers in the country as allowed by law.
A prosecution witness in the trial, Mr. Samuel Madojemu, told the tribunal that Saraki as a former governor of Kwara State, was not prevented by any law from owning shares in any company while he was the Kwara State Governor.
Under cross-examination by Mr. Paul Erokoro (SAN) who is a counsel to Saraki, the witness who is the Head of Investigation at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), admitted that public officers were allowed to own shares in companies in addition to owning farms for agricultural purposes.
The witness told the tribunal that there was no law in the country at the moment that forbids public officers from having even majority or controlling shares in any company.
Specifically, the witness said the Senate President has the right to own shares in any company that trades in Rice and sugar commodities and any other materials.
Under further cross-examination, Madojemu said he never asked the senate president during investigation on whether he had shares in any company trading in rice and sugar or nut.
The witness also admitted that he did not see any audited account of any company linked to Saraki who was accused of false asset declaration by the federal government.
The senate president is charged with 18-count further amended charges and had denied any wrong doing.
The prosecution witness had earlier testified that Saraki in one of his asset forms claimed to have acquired properties at No. 15a and 17 a Macdonald Street Ikoyi Lagos from proceeds of rice and sugar commodities.
According to him engaging personally in rice and sugar commodities business is unlawful for any public officer.
The witness also said contrary to his averment in his asset declaration form, the senate president did not acquire the said properties from the Presidential Committee on sales of federal government properties, but from another company G & C real estate property and investment company.
However, under cross-examination, the witness claimed that he did not know the year the senate president assumed office as governor of Kwara State and that he never met the senate president in person before he became governor.
As the Head of Investigation unit of the Code of Conduct Bureau, the witness admitted that he never treated any letter from the Senate President to the CCB and that he had no knowledge of Saraki’s handwriting other than the one on his asset declaration form.
The witness said most of the documents tendered as exhibits were obtained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) operatives and not by his own team.
He recalled that on September 14, 2015, he swore to an affidavit at the CCT and that he knew that the affidavit was going to be used by the federal government to file the present charge against the senate president.
He added that at the time he made the affidavit he was aware that it must be truthful in facts and contents and that he stood by the truthfulness of the affidavit.
However, when his attention was drawn to his claim that the senate president returned four asset forms to the CCB as against the seven tendered by the prosecution, the witness admitted contradictions and also agreed that four asset forms and seven asset forms were not the same.
Trial has been adjourned to continue on March 2.