Jubilation as CCT frees Saraki…quashes 18-count charge of false assets declaration

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*Saraki...beaming a hearty victory smile

There was jubilation amid clinking of glasses in the camp of the senate president, Bukola Saraki as the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) said today that he has no case to answer.

The tribunal also dismissed the 18-count charge bordering on false assets declaration brought against Saraki by the federal government.

The two-man panel of the CCT led by Danladi Umar unanimously the no-case submission filed by Saraki, holding that the evidence led by the prosecution was discredited under cross-examination and therefore unreliable.

Umar said no reasonable tribunal would convict a defendant on the evidence led by the prosecution through its four witnesses.

The CCB had on September 16, 2015, filed a 13-count charge against Saraki for alleged false and anticipatory declaration of assets.

The charges were increased to 15 on April 18, 2016, and another charge was added on April 27, 2016, to make it 16. The government later increased the charges to 17 on January 11, 2017, and finally to 18 on February 23, 2017.

Saraki’s counsel, Mr. Kanu Agabi had argued that the prosecutor had failed to establish a case alleging that he (Saraki) made a false declaration of his assets before and after his tenure as governor of Kwara State.

He was also accused of collecting double salaries during his time as governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011 and as a senator after he stepped down.

The case had been heard at the CCT, which tries cases of alleged abuse in public office.

Saraki challenged the competency of the tribunal to try him, hired a 66-lawyer defence team and turned up at hearings with dozens of senators and other politicians in support.

Umar said in his ruling that the prosecution “failed to link the defendant with the commission of the offences as charged”.

“All the responses of the prosecution witnesses and evidence in this trial have been discredited as a result of cross-examination and have become unreliable.

“In the light of the foregoing, the tribunal has nothing to do other than to discharge and acquit the defendant,” he added.

Under Nigerian law, senior politicians including state governors are required to declare their assets when they enter office.

Saraki was charged and brought to the tribunal in February 2016, about six months after he became senate president in a manner that did not go down well with the All Progressives Alliance (APC) hierarchy.

 

 

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