Supreme Court acquits Saraki of false assets declaration charges

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*Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki

Saraki: I’m happy with my vindication

After 1, 018 days, a five-man panel of the Supreme Court has cleared the senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki of all  charges of false assets declaration and sundry allegations filed against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

The court upheld the appeal in a lead judgment delivered by Justice Centus Nweze on Friday in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Saraki had filed an appeal at the apex court to challenge the ruling of the Court of Appeal which asked the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to try him on three of the 18 counts brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Delivering judgment on the appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court held that the prosecution failed to call material witnesses to support its case against the Senate President.

The court agreed that all those who have knowledge of facts were not called to testified in the matter and held that those who tendered documentary evidence against Saraki during the trial were not makers of the document, hence, their evidence on the documents were hearsay and lacked probative value.

It also held that the Court of Appeal made a caricature of its judgment when it found as a fact that the entire evidence presented by the prosecution was hearsay and manifestly unreliable and still went ahead to agree that prima facie case was established against the Senate President in three out of the 18 charges.

The judge further ruled that there was no basis for the Court of Appeal to have asked Saraki to defend himself on the three charges, having found the entire evidence of the prosecution as a product of hearsay,

He added that the action of the Court of Appeal amounted to forensic somersault and capable of making ill of jurisprudence.

“This court will not lend its jurisdiction to such a charade and caricature of justice. It carries grave error in holding that a prima facie case has been established against the appellant

“The prosecution is duty bound by law to call all key witnesses to be able to establish prima facie case against anybody,” it added.

In all, the five-panel of the apex court in the unanimous judgment agreed that the failure of the federal government to call vital witnesses in the trial of Saraki was fatal and rendered the trial nugatory.

The court dismissed the entire 18 charges brought against Saraki by the Federal government and consequently discharged and acquitted the senate president accordingly.

In his reaction, Saraki attributed his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to his emergence as the President of the Senate.

“The case was trumped up in the first instance because of my emergence as the President of the Senate against the wishes of certain forces.”

“As I said in my first appearance at the CCT, this is a politically motivated case. Ordinarily, I doubt anyone would be interested in the asset declaration form I filled over 15 years ago.

“Instead of working together in the interest of the nation and to seek to do better for our people, we are fighting one another and using legal instruments to mount baseless accusations against one another; instead of exhibiting the need for unity and working day and night for that purpose, we are stoking the fire of division and rancour.

“I maintain that, above all else, my CCT trial has been a flagrant vilification of my person and shows that some people are after their personal interests rather than the national interest,” he said.

He further said he was happy with his vindication by the court “at the end of a tortuous journey of 1,018 days counting from September 22, 2015.”

He further criticised the war against corruption which he claimed, “is being prosecuted with vindictiveness, to target perceived political opponents.”

With Channels TV report

 

 

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