The senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki has reacted to yesterday’s Appeal Court ruling which struck out 15 of the 18 charges pressed against him but sent him back to the Code of Conduct Tribunal to stand trial for alleged false asset declaration.
It would be recalled that the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal had nullified the acquittal ruling of the CCT handed down in Saraki’s favour on false declaration of assets last June.
Delivering a unanimous judgment in the appeal filed by the federal government against the senate president’s acquittal, the three-man panel of the court, headed by Justice Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson dismissed 15 out of the 18 counts filed before the CCT.
The court held that the prosecution failed to lead sufficient evidence in support of the 15 grounds but ruled that Saraki, had a case to answer with respect counts 4, 5 and 6 saying there was “ample” evidence, led by the prosecution, to warrant the senate president to open his defence in respect of the three counts.
“It is ordered that this case be remitted to the Code of Conduct Tribunal for the respondent (Saraki) to enter his defence,” said the court.
With that pronouncement, Saraki will now return to the CCT to open his defence in respect of the three counts.
Speaking through his media aide, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, the senate president said the court’s decision had further vindicated him.
“We noted the verdict of the Court of Appeal Court today in which it agreed with the decision of the CCT that senate president, Bukola Saraki has no case to answer on 15 of the 18 charges filed against him by the federal government.
“We believe that upholding the no case submission by Mr. Saraki with regards to 15 of the 18 counts charges vindicates the innocence of the Senate President. At least, today’s judgement has confirmed the position of the Tribunal that the prosecution’s case was entirely based on hearsay, not on any concrete evidence.
“The verdict of the Court of Appeal, just like that of the Tribunal before it, aligned with our position that the preposterous claims made during trial by the prosecution concerning operation of foreign accounts, making anticipatory declarations, collecting double salaries, owning assets beyond his income and failure to declare assets owned by companies in which the Senate President owns interests, among others, have fallen like a pack of cards and lack any basis,” said Olaniyonu.
The statement hinted that the Senate President would challenge the decision of the appellate court.
“On the remaining three counts, which really touch on two issues, referred back to the Tribunal for the Senate President’s defence, it should be noted that the Appellate Court only gave a summary of its decision today promising to provide the parties with certified true copies of the judgment soon. As soon as it makes the details of the judgement available, our lawyers will review the grounds of the decision and take appropriate action.
“We remain convinced about the innocence of the Senate President on the three (or two) counts because we believe the decision of the Court of Appeal is not consistent with the submissions made by both parties at the Tribunal. Thus, it is our view that that aspect of the judgment will not stand.
“The confidence and faith of Mr. Saraki in the nation’s judiciary and its ability to dispense justice to all manners of people remains unshaken.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State reacted to the court’s verdict saying the senate president “will be vindicated at the end of the legal journey.”
In a press statement issued by its publicity secretary, Mr. Sulyman Buhari, the party welcomed the judgement “though, we do not agree with the section of the judgment which ordered the retrial of the senate president on three of the counts at the CCT.”
“However, the party is convinced the three charges, which the appellate court sustained, will not survive legal scrutiny at the Supreme Court. Soon, the charges will fall like a pack of cards at the Supreme Court,” said the party and urged “all members of our party and supporters of the senate president to go about their daily activities and routines without worries and anxieties as there is no cause for alarm.”