9 January 2018

Nigeria: Saraki Asks Supreme Court to Stop Corruption Trial

Photo: Premium Times
Senate President Bukola Saraki.

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has asked the Supreme Court to quash the December 12 judgement of the Appeal Court which ordered his return to the Code of Conduct Tribunal for trial on alleged false asset declaration.

Mr. Saraki's lawyer, Paul Usoro, confirmed the fresh appeal to PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview on Monday.

According to Mr. Usoro, his client is seeking a declaration that the previous ruling on the matter by the tribunal was valid.

"Yes. Recall that the Appeal Court had asked him (Saraki) to return to the Tribunal and defend himself against three of the count charges. We are appealing against that judgement.

"Essentially, we are asking the Supreme Court to declare the earlier ruling of the Tribunal as valid," Mr. Usoro said.

Mr. Saraki was accused of false asset declaration and arraigned before the CCT by the Code of Conduct Bureau in 2015.

He was later discharged of all 18-count charges against him by a two-member panel of the tribunal led by its chairman, Danladi Umar.

In a ruling on Mr. Saraki's no-case submission in June, 2017, Mr. Umar agreed with the submissions of Mr. Saraki's lawyers that he (Saraki) had no case to answer and subsequently cleared the Senate President of all allegations against him.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, however, the Federal government appealed the decision of the tribunal resulting in the December 12 judgement of the Appeal Court.

A three-member panel of the appeal court led by judge, Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson, held that Mr. Saraki needed to explain himself in the light of evidences mounted against him by the prosecution.

The appeal court said the prosecution clearly accused Mr. Saraki of falsely declaring that he purchased a residence at number 17a McDonald Street Ikoyi Lagos from his (Saraki's) proceeds of the sale of rice, when according to the prosecution the house was purchased with loans obtained while the Senate president was governor of Kwara state.

The appeal court also said the prosecution succeeded in showing that Mr. Saraki obtained the controversial loan from the Guaranteed Trust bank, amounting to N380 million.

Mr. Saraki was equally accused of failing to declare a liability of over N315 million from the loan at the end of his tenure as governor.

Mr. Usoro told PREMIUM TIMES that the appeal court is yet to fix a date of hearing for the fresh appeal.

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