The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on asset declaration continued with the first witness of the prosecution, Michael Wetkas, an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) continuing his testimony against Saraki.
Many will recall that at the onset of the trial, Saraki maintained that under Section 3D of the act that established the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal, he ordinarily should have been given an opportunity to either confirm or deny the allegations brought against him in the 13 count charge. Saraki, through is lead counsel at the time, Philip Daudu, mentioned that based on those grounds, the trial should have been dismissed.
Several Senators like Majority Leader, Ali Ndume, and Senators Ibrahim Gobir and Isa Misau, have maintained that the trial of the Senate President is clearly politically motivated and is distracting the process of governance.
On the sidelines of the CCT sitting, Mr. Bode Abodurin, a political analyst, mentioned that it was odd that after two days of the trial, we are yet to see or hear from any official of the CCB.
“I find it funny that it is only the EFCC that we have heard from,” Abodurin said, “This is meant to be a false asset declaration case of the CCB, yet we all we are seeing and hearing is information that the EFCC failed to prosecute Saraki for the past five year.”
Abodurin further maintained that it was mighty suspicious – given the history of the CCT Chairman, Dan Ladi Umar with Ibrahim Lamorde – that the first witness maintained that the evidence he was presenting in court were gotten directly from Lamorde.
“I don’t doubt the credibility of the witness, Mr. Wetkas,” Abodurin said, “He seems like a fine gentleman. What I do doubt, is the fact that given Lamorde’s history with Umar – with Umar’s N10 million bribery case with the EFCC – the documents Wetkas obtained from Lamorde could have been doctored.”
A member of Saraki’s legal team, disclosed that with the connection between Lamorde, Wetkas – the witness, and Umar, the defence would be inviting the former EFCC Chairman to the trial to find out his connection to the documents presented in court on Wednesday, April 6th.
Additionally, there have been recent rumours that as the case of the Senate President continues to gain nationwide traction, there have been a few meetings between Lamorde, Umar, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, David Lawal, and a National Leader of the ruling party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Many will remember that during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, the two other judges of the CCT, Robert Odu rtd and Agwaza Atedze had in a joint letter to former President and copied to the EFCC, drew the attention of the government to the N10 million bribery allegation made against Umar, saying that the issue had brought serious embarrassment to them and the tribunal.
After the disclosure of an abated investigation and continuous happenings in the CCT-EFCC, it was gathered that Dan Ladi Umar was granted bail by the Lamorde-led EFCC on self-recognition on 29th of March 2014.
Since the Senate began the probe of the EFCC in September 2015 for diverting ceased funds, analysts believe that Umar was directed by Lamorde to begin the trial of the Senate President, in order to put an end to the probe of the financial crimes watchdog.
Lamorde was subsequently fired by President Buhari in November 2015. However, in a clear indication that the case against Saraki was motivated by the former EFCC Chairman, all the witnesses so far have been drawn from the EFCC, and not the body meant to investigate asset declaration forms, the Code of Conduct Bureau.