14 June 2017

Nigeria: False Asset Declaration Charge - Why We Cleared Saraki - Code of Conduct Tribunal

Photo: Premium Times
Senate President Bukola Saraki.

The Code of Conduct Tribunal on Wednesday cleared the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, of false asset declaration charges, brought against him in September 2015.

Mr. Saraki was slammed with a 13-count charge by the federal government, shortly after his emergence as Senate president.

He made several attempts to prevent the trial without initial success.

In his application for a no-case submission, Mr. Saraki's lawyers argued that the allegations made against their client was based on petitions from complainants who never appeared as witnesses to testify.

The lawyers, led by a former Attorney General of the Federation, Kanu Agabi, argued that the petitions upon which the allegations were based, did not form part of the documents presented in court.

They prayed the tribunal to dismiss the case, on the grounds that the prosecution failed to link Mr. Saraki with the charges.

In his ruling on the application, the CCT said the failure of the prosecution to present witnesses who were fully part of the alleged offence against the senate president, made their evidence "incurably defective".

An official of the Code of Conduct Bureau, Samuel Madujemu, had appeared in the tribunal to testify regarding the bureau's findings which resulted in the alleged offences.

Mr. Madujemu had stated that the evidences he presented in the tribunal were based on information provided by the bureau's investigation team.

Another member of the tribunal's bench, William Atedze, said it was unlawful to depend on the word "team", for the presentation of an evidence, since the law does not recognize "team" as a source of evidence.

He said the evidence alluded to in any court of law should only be given by "a witness who saw, heard or took part in the transaction, upon which he is testifying to".

"The evidence is incurably defective. The prosecution has failed to link the defendant with the alleged offence," Mr. Atedze said.

Speaking after the ruling, a prosecution counsel, Pious Kehinde, said steps were already on to get copies of the ruling. He said the prosecution will study the ruling and determine the next course of action.

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