A detective with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Michael Wetkas, on Tuesday narrated to the Code of Conduct Tribunal how the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, allegedly diverted Kwara State Government’s funds as the governor of the state.
The witness said Saraki, who was the governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011, used the proceeds of the loot to repay personal bank loans which the former governor allegedly expended on the acquisition of landed assets in Lagos and Abuja.
Saraki is being prosecuted on 13 counts of false and anticipatory asset declaration which he made at the beginning and at the end of each of his two terms as governor.
Wetkas was the Federal Government’s first prosecution witness in a trial which only commenced on Tuesday after about six months of delay caused by a series of interlocutory applications and appeals deployed by Saraki.
The witness said, “It was discovered that the properties were acquired through the loans.
“The loans were repaid, through cash lodgements collected from the defendant at the Kwara State Government House and made in GTB, GRA, Ilorin branch.”
Wetkas said it was discovered that some of the individuals, who lodged funds into the accounts, were bank officials.
He added that the bank officials and some aides to the former governor collected the funds lodged into the accounts directly from Saraki at the Kwara State Government House.
He explained that Saraki paid back the loans with Kwara State Government’s fund through his aides, one of whom lodged between N600,000 and N900,000 in the former governor’s account 50 times on a particular day.
He said, “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 lodgements into the account, were bank officials.
“One Oluwatujimu reported to the commission.”
From our interactions with him, we discovered that some of the lodgements were made through his superior at the bank, Bayo Daudu, who was the Relationship Manager of the account.
“In our interaction with Daudu, it was discovered that the cash sums were handed over to him by the defendant (Saraki) for lodgement in the account.
“According to Daudu, he goes to Kwara State Government House to collect the money from the defendant for lodgement 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 lodgement on the same day about 20 times in the same range of N600,000 and N900,000. Adama 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 lodgements into the account, were fictitious.
“From the lodgements into the accounts, we observed and discovered that one Ubi (we don’t have his surname) made five lodgements of over N37m in cash.”
According to the witness, Saraki failed to declare many of the landed assets as of 2011 when he completed his second term as governor.
He said investigation revealed that the defendant maintained three accounts with the 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 inflow of about N4bn. The major source of inflow into the account was loans taken from GTB within the period. The loans were about N2.5bn, and the other source of inflow into the account was massive lodgements by individuals. Other inflows into the account were from the companies.
“It was discovered that the money was used for the purchase of property. The dollar account was also analysed. The major source of inflow into the dollar account was Tiny Tee Properties Ltd, which was about $2m. Other source was from bureau de change companies. And the rest was cash lodgements 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.”
He said Saraki failed to list the assets in his asset declaration form.