*Consolidates Wetkas’ witness of April 2016
Trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, continued at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja with a prosecution witness telling the court how during his time as the Governor of Kwara State, transferred huge sums of money to his foreign accounts in the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
According to the witness, Nwachukwu Amazu, a staff of the Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), he revealed that Saraki maintained an account with the American Express Service Europe Ltd as well as another with the Fortis Bank in London.
Amazu told the court that Saraki, who also had a domiciliary account with GTB, made several transfers from his GTB account to the various foreign accounts.
“He has a domiciliary account, with the GTB in US dollars and in pound sterling. The domiciliary account is domiciled in Ilorin,” he said.
On one occasion, the witness said Saraki transferred $73,000 to his American account to fund his credit card. When asked to explain the mode of operation of the foreign credit card, the witness said he has no idea how the card operates.
“I don’t know anything about the card, except if I explain with my knowledge of the GTB credit card in the Nigerian perspective,” he said.
Amazu said he worked with the funds transfer unit of the GTB, between 2006 and 2009 before he was transferred and later returned to head the unit in 2011.
He said that the Senate President made other transfers including the transfer of £761, 904. 76 in February 2010. The witness said another sum of £632, 411.7 was also transferred for the defendant to Fortis Bank in London.
Amazu was led in evidence by counsel to the Federal Government, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN). It should be noted that the Nigerian code of conduct prohibits public officials including state governors from operating foreign bank accounts.
Saraki is being tried by the Federal Government on allegations of false assets declaration during his time as Kwara State governor.
He was absent at the Senate plenary on Tuesday due to the trial and in his absence, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu presided over the proceedings.
Michael Wetkas witness of 2016: Last year April in the same court, another witness had told the court how the Senate President while he was governor of Kwara State, used fictitious names and several companies to launder billions of Naira abroad which he used to buy properties.
The witness, Michael Wetkas, an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said investigations showed that aides of the former governor made cash lodgments of between N600,000 to N900,000 up to 50 times in one day and that more than N4 billion passed through one of his accounts between 2005 and 2013.
The witness also disclosed that Saraki had several properties in Nigeria and abroad that he failed to declare before and after he served as governor of Kwara State.
Wetkas told the tribunal that investigations into Saraki’s financial dealings commenced after his second term ended in 2011 when the EFCC received several petitions against him alleging abuse of office, misappropriation of public funds and money laundering.
Investigations showed that Saraki was linked to several companies which laundered money that was then used to buy properties for him abroad. The companies include Carlisle Properties and Investments Limited, Skyview Properties Limited, Linkers Nigeria Limited and Tiny-tee Limited.
The witness said that the former governor was found to have three accounts with GTB, in naira, dollar and pound sterling and that “from 2005 to 2013 about N4 Billion moved in and out of the accounts.”
“The major source of inflow into the accounts was loans taken from GTB within the period. The loans were about N2.5billion, and the other source of inflows into the account was massive lodgments by individuals. Other inflows into the account were from the companies,”Wetkas stated.
According to him most of the money was used in purchasing properties.
Between 2009 and 2013, about $6 million passed through Saraki’s domiciliary account with most of it laundered abroad to purchase property, the witness told the tribunal.
“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,” he said.
Wetkas also said that officials of the GTB who were discovered to have made cash lodgments into Saraki’s account told investigators that they collected the money directly from the defendant at the Government House, Ilorin and paid into his account.
“One of them, Oluwatojimi Adeye, reported to the commission that the monies he lodged into the accounts were given to him by a superior officer, Bayo Dauda, who was the relationship manager of the account mentioned.
“Mr. Dauda informed investigators that the cash were handed to him by the defendant. He said he used to go to the Government House Ilorin to collect the cash. Most lodgements were done by two individuals, one Ubi and another Abdul Adama.
“Ubi in a single day made five separate lodgements of about N77 million in five transactions.
“Abdul Adama on a single day made 50 lodgments into the same account of monies between N600, 000 to N980,000. Ubi made additional 20 lodgements on the same day of cash ranging from N600, 000 to N900,000.”