The trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki over alleged false declaration of assets at the CCT continued on Tuesday with the cross examination of prosecution witness, Mr Michael Wetkas, by the defence.
This was after the tribunal Chairman ruled in favour of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki that the defence have a right to conduct their defence in the manner it suits them and the tribunal is bound to allow the defence use every legal instrument at its disposal to conduct its case.
The prosecutor urged the tribunal to compel the defence to stick to only one counsel rather than “change counsels every day” to make the trial tidy.
However, counsel to Dr. Saraki, Mr Paul Usoro says that argument of the prosecutor was absurd in law because the defence, having announced all of his counsels is entitled to use any of them for the justice of the case.
The tribunal asked the prosecution to be patient and allow the defence defend its client to its best but noted that the tribunal can draw their attention if they go out of the bounds of the law.
During cross-examination, one of the defence counsels, Mr Paul Ilokoro, asked the witness if he had ever seen the original copy of the exhibits he presented before the tribunal.
The witness, who led the EFCC team of investigators who worked on Mr. Saraki’s assets declaration forms, Mr Michael Wetkas said that the documents were with the CCB and that he was only furnished with other copies.
“At a point we were asked to work with officials of the CCB. In the course of our investigations, there is no how you will investigate economic and financial crime that assets will not be involved.
“So normally in the course of our investigations, we asked persons under investigation to fill assets declaration forms provided by the Commission itself.
Mr Micheal Wetkas then added that this is so almost in all cases and that in the instant case, the asset declaration form he tendered was the one provided by the Code of Conduct Bureau.
When asked if he had seen the original copy of the asset declaring form he tendered, he said he had always worked with the certified true copy given to him by the investigating team members from CCB.
However, when asked again if he had ever sighted the original, he said that he had seen it during investigation and when asked why the original were furnished to team and not the court, he said that he did not demand for it and he only used it for sighting.
He further said that the certified true copy serves the same purpose as the original.
When asked if in the course of investigation whether there were several original or just one, he said that the normal thing is to have just one original of a document.
The defence counsel then recalled a claim made by the prosecution witness that Dr. Saraki had 1.5 billion Naira in his account shortly before he became Kwara State Governor in 2003 and demanded for a recalculation of the figures as stated in Appendix 7A of Exhibit 1.
But the prosecution counsel objected that the recalculation was unnecessary since Mr Wetkas was the same person who presented those figures in the first place.
The defence counsel, Mr. Ilokoro, responded, “My lord, as you can see, the documents were dumped for the press in order to scandalise my client. It is obvious they have no coherent figures to prove false assets declaration.”
When probed further, Mr Wetkas also confirmed to the defence counsel that the stamp used to confirm the completion of assets verification documents after their investigation did not carry a date.
When asked if his evidence was intended for the tribunal to see the defendant as someone who was not a man of means, Mr Wetkas answered in the negative.