THE trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, over false assets declaration will resume Monday at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), sitting in Abuja.
The date was fixed for the Federal Government to re-open its case against the Senate President, following the December 12, 2017, judgment of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, which ordered Saraki to enter his defence to only three out of the 18 count charges slammed against him by the Federal Government.
Saraki’s Alleged False Assets Declaration Thus Far…
The appellate court had in a unanimous judgment by a three-man panel of Justices led by Justice Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson, said it was satisfied that Saraki had a case to answer before the CCT.
The court dismissed 15 counts of the original charge on the premise that they were not supported with credible evidence capable of warranting the Senate President to be called upon to enter his defence to them.
Specifically, the appellate court panel directed Saraki to return to the tribunal to defend counts 4, 5 and 6 of the amended charge.
Whereas count 4 and 5 of the charge alleged that the Senate President made false declaration of his assets at the end of his tenure as Executive Governor of Kwara State in 2011 and on assumption of office as a Senator in 2011, when he declared that he acquired properties at No. 17A and No. 17B McDonald, Ikoyi Lagos on September 6, 2006, from the proceeds of sale of rice and sugar.
In count-6, FG alleged that the defendant made false declaration of his assets at the end of his tenure as Governor of Kwara State, when he failed to declare his outstanding loan liabilities of N315, 054, 355.92 out of the loan of N380, 000, 000 he obtained from Guaranty Trust Bank Plc.
The Justice Akomolafe-Wilson-led panel agreed with FG that the CCT ought to have called Saraki to defend his claim that he repaid the loan he took from GTB to acquire the two properties through proceeds from his sale of Rice and Sugar.
The appellate court said the clarification was necessitated by the fact that public officers were by the law, prohibited from engaging in any form of business venture apart from agriculture.
The court, however, dismissed counts 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 of the amended charge marked ABT/01/15.
The appellate court dismissed Saraki’s contention that FG failed to tender in evidence, original copies of the six assets declaration forms he submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
It held that under sections 104 and 105 of the Evidence Act, certified true copies of any public document was admissible in evidence, adding that Saraki failed to prove that the photocopied documents FG tendered as exhibits 1-6 were not genuine.
“In conclusion, I hereby remit the case back to the Code of Conduct Tribunal for the defendant to enter his defence in respect of count 4, 5, and 6”, Justice Akomolafe-Wilson who read the lead verdict held.
Meanwhile, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had, on February 2, 2018, brought a two-count charge against the CCT Chairman, Danladi Yakubu Umar bordering on alleged receipt of N10 million bribe from a former Deputy Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Mr Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo
In the charge signed by Festus Keyamo, as a private prosecuting counsel and one Offem Uket an official of the EFCC, Umar was accused of receiving N1.8 million through his Personal Assistant, Gambo Abdullahi for a favour to be afterwards shown to the petitioner who was standing trial for a criminal offence before the tribunal.
No date has been fixed for the arraignment of the CCT boss at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.