Senators opposed to Bukola Saraki’s emergence as Senate President yesterday, walked out from plenary just as the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekwerenmadu took over from Saraki who has to leave the session to attend his ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Some senators belonging to the Unity Forum led by Senator Ahmed Lawan (APC, Yobe North) reportedly were absent at plenary while the Deputy Senate President presided, with prominent members of the forum seen walking out while session continued
The same Unity Forum was absent at the inauguration of the 8th assembly which saw the emergence of Bukola Saraki as Senate President, when senators loyal to him and belonging to the Like Minds Senators, aligned with senators from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to elect principal officers that saw the PDP clinch the seat of the Deputy Senate President.
Senators Ahmed Lawan, Kabir Marafa and Abu Ibrahim who have been in the forefront in opposing Saraki as Senate President were absent at plenary yesterday while members of the Like Minds Senators led by Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West) participated actively throughout the proceedings.
As of present, there are 44 senators belonging to the PDP while the APC has 58 with members divided into two factions, those supporting Bukola Saraki as Senate President and those opposing him.
However, as the trial of the embattled President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki continued yesterday at the Code of Conduct Tribunal Abuja, a witness called by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Michael Wetkas insisted that the investigation of assets declared by the former governor of Kwara State was not borne out of petitions written against him (Saraki).
Wetkas, an operative of the EFCC was crossed examined by Saraki’s counsel, Kanu Agabi on the contents of petitions written against the Senator.
Prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacob SAN had tendered about four petitions wherein Saraki was alleged to have embezzled funds belonging to Kwara State while serving as governor of the state between 2003 an 2011.
Responding to questions upon cross examination, Wetkas insisted that the allegations contained in the petitions were not the basis of the investigation which his team conducted leading to the charges of false asset declaration instituted against Saraki by the Federal Government.
According to the prosecution witness, the petitions which were sent to the EFCC sometime in May and June 2012, were written by a group called Kwara Freedom Network.
Wetkas told the court that the petitions were written about one year after Saraki had vacated office as Governor of Kwara State just as he confirmed that none of the petitions mentioned allegation of false assets declaration which is the subject matter of the instant case.
More so, Wetkas said he never launched investigation on Saraki based on allegations contained in the petitions because they were not assigned to his team.
In addition, he said none of the petitions was addressed to the Code of Conduct Bureau.
Wetkas insisted he led the inter-agency team that investigated the intelligence report on the allegations leading to the charges instituted against Saraki before the tribunal.
The petitions with which he was confronted with by Saraki were earlier admitted as Exhibits 10 to 13 by the tribunal.
In the petition dated May 2, 2012 marked Exhibit 10, the petitioners had demanded the EFCC to probe alleged fraud in Shongai Farm Holdings.
The petition claimed that some Zimbabwean farmers did not make their own counterpart funds to the farm which was then meant to be jointly funded by them and the Kwara State Government.
Exhibit 11 is a petition addressed to the EFCC and dated May 2, 2012.
The petition appealed to the EFCC to “Save Kwara State primary schools from total collapse”
Exhibit 12 is a petition against Saraki dated May 2, 2012, which was also addressed to EFCC.
Herein, the petitioner asked the EFCC to investigate borrowings by the Kwara State Government for projects described as fictitious.
Exhibit 13 is a petition dated June 7, 2012, which was addressed to the EFCC and copied the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, the Presidency and the Kwara State House of Assembly.
Responding to questions on all these exhibits, Wetkas said he did not have anything to say because he was not assigned to investigate issues raised in them.