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By Premium Times
A verification report prepared by the Code of Conduct Bureau in July 2006 is key to the ongoing prosecution of the President of the Nigerian Senate, Bukola Saraki, for corruption and false declaration of assets, Premium Times can authoritatively report today.
The report, which was a product of a detailed verification of the assets he declared when he assumed duties as governor of Kwara State in 2003, specifically accused him of giving the Bureau false information on the status of some of his properties in Lagos and Abuja.
The verification was carried out on July 19, 2006, by a team headed by Ikechi Iwuagwu, then a deputy director at the CCB, and comprising Garba Adamu of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Geraldine Longtsen of the State Security Service.
The team was, at the time, mandated to verify Mr. Saraki assets as listed in his Form CCB 1.
The team also verified the assets declared by a former governor of Lagos State and a leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu.
The Investigative Report
According to the CCB Investigative Report, obtained exclusively by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Saraki’s properties verified by the team were those on Plot 212 Musa Yar’adua, Victoria Island, Lagos; Plot of land at Lekki Phase 1 in Block 72; Plot of land at Ibatun near Ajah, Lagos; No. 42 Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; No. 19 Ruxton Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; No. 62 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi; No. 15A & B MacDonald, Ikoyi and No. 6 Volga Street, Maitama A6, Abuja.
This newspaper had exclusively reported that the senate president, on September 6, 2003, put the total value of the eight properties, which he acquired between December 1991 and March 2000, at N2.3 billion.
According to him, the property on Musa Yar’Adua Street, Victoria Island, owned by his company, BAS Trading, was valued at N700 million while the plot of land in Lekki, he acquired in his name in February 1992, was valued at N7 million.
Similarly, the plot in Ajah he got in November 1992 had a value rate of N5 million; the property at 42 Gerrard Road, Ikoyi owned by Skyview Properties Ltd was valued at N750 million property; the one at 19 Ruxton road, Ikoyi, owned by Skyview Properties Ltd was valued at N500 million; the property at 62 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi also owned by Skyview was valued at N100 million; while Carlisle Properties Ltd, one of his company owned the property at No 15A & 15B McDonald Road, Ikoyi worth N160 million.
The property in Maitama District in Abuja was N160 million.
Mr. Saraki also declared the rental incomes of five of the properties.
However, the team, in the report, said it could not locate the two plots of land Mr. Saraki mentioned in his assets declaration form because he did not supply the particulars.
“The team tried to locate the two plots of land mentioned in the Assets Form of the Governor without success as the basic particulars were not supplied,” the report said.
On the property on Plot 212 Musa Yar’Adua Street, Victoria Island, the report said it was a five-storey building complex with additional one storey adjacent to the main complex and that the cost posted by Mr. Saraki on the property was N500 million.
“Our view is that this is certainly overvalued at that cost. The property is properly fenced with high walls for purely residential purpose and managed by Carlisle Properties Ltd,” it said.
On the property at No. 42 Gerald Road, Ikoyi, the team reported, “The property was verified; however our findings show that it is a new two story building still under construction.
“We also confirmed through interview that by the year 2003 it was a vacant land, development commenced just about 2 – 3 years ago. It is an uncompleted building with a low unpainted fence.
“The irony here is that the declarant claimed that he earns N110 million as annual rent on this property. Certainly this is false declaration and the property was valued at N750 million.
“To say the least, this is a clear case of anticipatory declaration because at the time of declaration, there was no building in the vacant land talk less of someone making an income of N750m from the property. Thus the declaration here is at best bogus and phony.”
On the property at 19 Ruxton Road, Ikoyi, the team said although Mr. Saraki declared that it was valued at N500m, its verification revealed that the building was a relatively new complex.
It further stated that its inquiry revealed that the old building was demolished and a new one built there. It said the property was fenced and was a complex built for residential purpose.
It recommended that the “title deed of the property should be demanded from the governor”.
On the property at No. 62 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, the team said it consisted of a three-storey building undergoing renovation.
“It is a very old structure whose value is very far from the N100m claimed by the declarant,” it added.
In its report on the property at No. 15A & 15B MacDonald, Ikoyi, the team said, “While the property at 15A is a big one painted and fenced the other one at 15B is unpainted and lacks character, although it is also fenced. The properties are for residential purposes and we established that the declarant owns them.”
On the property at No. 6 Volta Street, Maitama A6, Abuja, the team said, “This property is a cream and brown coloured duplex with boys’ quarters. At the time of visit there were no obvious sign of occupation. The declarant valued this property which he claims to have acquired in 1996 at N60 million.”
The Senate President in the dock
Mr. Saraki was docked by the Code of Conduct Tribunal on a 13-count charge on September 18 for alleged corruption and false declaration of assets.
He was specifically accused of deliberately manipulating the asset declaration form he submitted prior to his assumption of his current position as senate president.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges even as he subtly attributed his predicament to his emergence as senate president on June 9 against the wishes of his party, the All Progressives Congress.
Mr. Saraki returns to the CCT Wednesday (today) as the Tribunal has fixed October 21, 22 and 23 for hearing.
Read and download the 13-count charge against Mr. Saraki here.