Saraki purchased disputed properties with loan, restates witness

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ABUJA, NOVEMBER 8, 2016 – The trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki on false assets declaration resumed, yesterday, with revelation that the properties in dispute (Plot 17A, and 17B or 17 and 17A, Mac Donald Street, Ikoyi) were purchased with loan and acknowledged as such in his Assets Declaration Form.

The prosecution witness, Michael Wetkas, under cross examination by the defense counsel, Paul Usoro, admitted that in 2007, the Senate President actually noted in his form that he acquired the properties with loan obtained from a commercial bank.

The witness, however, added that four years later (2011), the same properties were declared by the Senate President as having been acquired with proceeds from sale of rice and sugar.

The witness also admitted that five other assets were declared alongside those of Mac Donald Street, and that one common denominator was that they were acquired with proceeds from the sale of rice and sugar before he became Kwara State governor in 2003.

The witness, who was asked to read the bank statement of the defendant, also told the Code of Conduct Tribunal that the loan obtained for purchase of the properties in question had been liquidated prior to the 2011 declaration.

According to him, “The first payment was made in May 2007; the second on August 2, 2007; the next was November 2, 2007, followed by another on February 1, 2008. The last one was paid on May 2, 2008.”

But Usoro demanded from the witness if he knew the source of the money used in paying back the loan, when he asked: “Do you have any evidence that the funds used to repay the loan was from the Kwara State government?The witness declined to answer the question directly but later admitted he did not mention Kwara State government in his evidence.

Wetkas also insisted that even though he did not mention the state in his evidence in chief, the manner the loan was repaid contravened the money-laundering act.

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