There were several fireworks and new revelations today (Tuesday, May 17th, 2016) at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), as the Federal Government’s lead witness, Michael Wetkas, an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), stated that Saraki was not directly involved in some of the charges brought against him by the Federal Government.
Answering questions on cross-examination by Paul Usoro (SAN), the Counsel to the defence, Wetkas admitted that in the documentation for the credit facility for Skyview Limited – one of the companies listed in the Federal Government’s 16 count charge against Saraki – the Senate President was not listed as one of the signatories.
Wetkas’s cross-examination further established that under the law, a company has shareholders and not owners, hence the issue of separate entities under the law comes into play.
Recall that several charges in the Federal Government’s case against Saraki at the CCT pertains to the Senate President allegedly failing to declare assets belonging to his companies.
However, based on Wetkas’s testimony in court, wherein he confirmed that there is a distinction between a company and its shareholders, the defence team is pushing the argument that as long as the defendant had declared his ownership of the company, the property belonging to the company did not need to be declared – as the law views the personalities of companies and its shareholders as distinct entities.
Speaking to the court, Usoro gave the following example to elaborate on his point:
“I am a board member of PZ,” the Senior Advocate said, “PZ owns 75% shares. Does it mean that because I own a certain number of PZ shares, I’m the owner of PZ?”
Usoro further stated that: “The law says that the properties of a company doesn’t belong to a shareholder.”