Ikoyi houses: Witness says payments to Saraki’s aide were budgeted - OPID News

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Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Ikoyi houses: Witness says payments to Saraki’s aide were budgeted

 Ikoyi houses: Witness says payments to Saraki’s aide were budgeted

A former Controller, Finance and Accounts, at the Kwara State Government House, Isiaka Kareem, Wednesday told a Federal High Court in Lagos that the hundreds of millions withdrawn by Dr

Bukola Saraki between 2003 and 2011 through his aide were budgeted for.

Kareem said the sums, withdrawn in tranches of about N100million and above while Saraki was the state’s governor, were designated as being for ‘security and contingency’.

He testified before Justice Mohammed Liman in the resumption of a suit by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking to forfeit the Federal Government, two Lagos properties owned by Saraki.

The properties are situated at 17 & ‪17A, McDonald Road in the Ikoyi area of Lagos.

The anti-graft agency claimed that the houses were acquired with funds allegedly diverted by Saraki from the coffers of Kwara State while he was governor.

The EFCC alleged that between 2003 and 2011, Saraki “withdrew over N12bn cash from the account of the Kwara State Government and paid same into his accounts domiciled in Access and Zenith banks through one of his personal assistants, Abdul Adama, at different intervals.”

It said the ex-governor obtained a bank loan of N1.6bn to buy the houses and later repaid the loan with money diverted from the state treasury.

When the matter last came up on June 8, 2020, the court declined an application seeking the final forfeiture of the properties.

It ordered the anti-graft agency to bring more evidence in support of its claim.

During yesterday’s proceedings, the witness told the judge that monthly payments to one Abdul Adama, an aide to Saraki, was provided for in the budget of Kwara State while the former governor was in office.

Under cross-examination by Saraki’s counsel, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), the witness said as an accountant, he was familiar with the state’s budget and that he knew there were provisions for ‘security and contingency’, the headings under which the monthly payments were made to Adama.

He added that there was no time he made any complaint to anyone about the monthly payments he made to Adama.

The witness, who explained that he was in the civil service for more than 30 years, said while working in Government House, said he neither had any personal relationship with Saraki nor knew anything about his property and the source of funding them.

When he was questioned by Ogunwumiju on the statement he made to the EFCC, the witness clarified that it was not every month that he paid N100 million to Adama.

On this issue, he said: “The allocation to Government House was not static. It was less than N100 million when we started and it kept increasing overtime. That was why I said it was not N100 million every month.”

The witness had earlier in his examination-in-chief by the EFCC’s counsel, Emeka Omewa, told the court that Adama was introduced to him by Saraki as his personal assistant.

He said the former governor also instructed him to pay funds captured under ‘security and contingency’ to Adama.

He said: “Every month, when monthly allocations are disbursed, Adama would come to collect funds designated as ‘security and contingency.”

“In my office, we designated a form for everyone that came to collect funds and Adama signed the form every month for the funds he collected from my office. The funds were collected between 2003 when I resumed until the governor left in 201.”

Further hearing in the matter has been adjourned to 25th November, 2020

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