A detective at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Michael Wetkas on Tuesday narrated to the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, how the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who is facing a 13 counts charge of false assets declaration, allegedly used fictitious names to launder billions of Naira.
The prosecution witness alleged that one of Saraki’s personal assistants identified as Abdul Adama made transaction 50 times into the then Kwara State Governor’s account in a single day, broken down to N600, 000 and N900, 000 each.
This was after the Justice Danladi Umar-led tribunal rejected an application for an adjournment by the Senate President, insisting that the trial cannot be stopped on the basis of the motion he filed at the Court of Appeal challenging the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the case and that the defendant’s application for adjournment offended provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA 2015.
Citing relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution as amended as well as the ACJA 2015, Justice Umar ruled that notwithstanding the motion of Appeal which was acknowledged by the CCT, it was unjustifiable that the matter be adjourned as canvassed by the defendant and ordered for commencement of trial.
“Having listened to argument from Counsels, and considering the provisions of laws in the Constitution and Criminal Justice Act, 2015, especially on the powers of CCT in a case brought before it, I want to rule that trial should commence immediately,” the judge ruled.
With the coast clear for trial to commence, the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs called in Michael Wetkas as witness who told the tribunal that “When the defendant was governor of Kwara state between 2003 and 2011. The commission received several petitions from various groups. One of the petitioners was Kwara Freedom Network. They brought several petitions all bordering on abuse of office by the defendant, misappropriation of public fund and money laundering.
“Sometime in 2014, the then executive chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde received intelligence reports of suspicious transactions involving the defendant. He set up a team of investigators. Our task was to investigate the intelligence reports.
“The investigation report was reviewed by my team. In the course of our investigation, we discovered that there were several companies which were linked to the defendant. Some of them include Carlisle Properties Investment Ltd, Skyview Properties Ltd, LimKvars Ltd, and TIly-lie Ltd. Some of the companies maintain accounts at Gauranty Trust Bank(GTB), Zenith Bank, Access Bank, and other banks.
“From the investigation, it was discovered that the defendant maintained three accounts at GTB. The first account is a naira currency account, the second is a US dollar account and the third is a pound sterling account.
“The naira account was analysed, and it was discovered that between 2005 and 2013, the account had an in-flow of about N4bn. The major source of inflow into the accounts was loans taken from GTB within the period. The loans were about N2.5bn, and the other source of inflows into the account was massive lodgments by individuals. Other in flows into the account were from the companies.
“It was discovered that money was used for purchase of property. The dollar account was also analysed. The major source of inflow into the dollar account was Tily-lie Properties Ltd, which was about $2m. Other source was from bureau de change companies. And the rest was cash lodgments by individuals.
“The cash in the dollar account between 2009 and 2013 was $6m. We discovered that up to $3.4m was wired to American Express Services Europe Limited, which was used to fund the defendant’s American Express Service New York card account number 374588216836009. The defendant wired over 1.5m pound sterling to Fortis Bank for the purchase of a property in the UK.
“After that, because of the suspicious inflows into the account, the bank (GTB) officials were invited. The reason for the invitation of the officials was that some of the individuals who were making the cash lodgment into the account were bank officials.
”One Oluwa Tujimu reported to the commission. From our of interactions with him, we discovered that some of the lodgments were made through a superior at the bank, Bayo Daudu, who was the relationship manager of the account. In our interaction with Daudu, it was discovered the cash sums were handed over to him by the defendant for lodgment in the account. According to Daudu, he goes to Kwara state government house to collect the money from the defendant for lodgment into the account at the GRA Ilorin branch of GTB.
“We discovered one name, Abdul Adama who made transaction 50 times into the account in a single day. The sum was broken down to N600, 000 and N900, 000, and was lodged in the same day.
“Subsequently, after that one Ubi made a lodgment on the same day about 20 times in the same range of N600, 000 and N900, 000, we looked for Adama and invited him. He reported that the cash sums were handed over to him by the defendant and stated further that the cash sums that were lodged in by Ubi into the same account were from the defendant.
“Adama and Ubi were personal assistants to the defendant while he was governor. Further investigations revealed that other individuals who made lodgments into the account were fictitious. GTB said they had done the needful by reporting the suspicious transactions to FIU.”