Asset declaration: Saraki ends historic 14-day cross-examination of witness

Senate President Bukola Saraki
Senate President Bukola Saraki
The defence team of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday ended its historic 14-day cross-examination of the first prosecution witness, Mr. Michael Wetkas, in his trial on charges relating to asset declaration breaches.
Saraki is being prosecuted by the Federal Government before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on 16 counts, including false and anticipatory asset declaration, which he allegedly made as Governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.
Defence counsel, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), announced the end of cross-examination by the defence after asking the witness a few questions on Tuesday.
Usoro asked the witness questions on Count 16 which borders on allegation that the Senate President, between June 2011 and October 2013, took salaries and emoluments from Kwara State Government and at the same time from the Federal Government as a Senator in breach of Section 6(a) of Code of Bureau and Tribunal Act.
Usoro asked the witness, an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, if he investigated the account of the Kwara State Government and whether he questioned Saraki or any officials of the state government in relation to the particular charge.
The witness gave a “no” response to all the questions.
To the surprise of the members of the Danladi Umar-led panel, Usoro said the cross-examination had ended after repeating most of the questions the defence team had earlier asked the witness since the trial resumed, with the Supreme Court validating charges preferred against Saraki in a judgment delivered last February.
Legal experts have described the period it took the defence to conclude its cross examination of the first prosecution witness as unprecedented.
But after completing the cross-examination on Tuesday, Usoro thanked the panel, saying the “rigorous” cross-examination was not meant to delay the case but it was due to the “complexity of the charges”.
The matter, however, had to be adjourned due to the absence of the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs(SAN), who arrived after the trial was fixed to continue in January.
The matter was adjourned till January 11, 2017.