A’Court Judgment: I Have Been Vindicated – Saraki

Nigeria’s Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has said the decision of the Appeal Court regarding the case of false asset declarations instituted against him by the federal government has proved that he is innocent of the charges.

The appeal court on Tuesday ruled that the red chamber helmsman has a case to answer ordering Code of Conduct Tribunal to commence his retrial.

Mr. Saraki however, said he is vindicated by the decision of the court to strike out 15 of the 18 charges levelled against him.

In a statement by his media aide, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Mr. Saraki said the decision of the court further proves his innocence.

“We noted the verdict of the Court of Appeal Court today in which it agreed with the decision of the Code of Conduct Tribunal 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,” Mr. Olaniyonu said.

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.”

Justice Umar throws Saraki’s lawyer out of tribunal venue

Danladi Umar, chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), has asked security to throw out Raphael Oluyede, one of the lawyers of Senate President Bukola Saraki, for talking back at him.

Umar also “threw away” an application by Saraki asking him to withdraw from his trial.

Speaking on the application, the CCT judge said: “This motion filed by a mere busybody legal practitioner is not accepted by this tribunal.

“Members of the inner bar, you are to guide him. How can you allow such a rubbish thing from him?

“This motion is of no consequence. As far as this tribunal is concerned is thrown away.”

A verbal melee had ensued when Oluyede asked the tribunal to give him room to speak on the application.

But Umar overruled his request and ordered him to sit down.

Oluyede refused to obey the order, a shouting match then started.

In the heat of the argument, an angry Umar ordered police officers at the tribunal to throw his “challenger” out.

The courtroom immediately broke into loud murmurs, and tension was palpable. However, the presence of security men stopped the situation from degenerating any further.

In the application filed by Oluyede, and seen by TheCable, the senate president asked Umar to disqualify himself from the case on the grounds that he was biased.

The application, which was filed on Wednesday at the CCT, read in part: “An order disqualifying/recusing the Honourable Justice Danladi Umar (Chairman of this tribunal) from sitting on the panel of this tribunal for hearing and determination of the charges filed in these proceedings for the reason that his continued presence on the said panel of this tribunal offends the provisions of section 36 (1) of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria which prescribes that ‘In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.’

“A likelihood of bias by the tribunal against the appellant… undermines and withdraws from the tribunal, the jurisdiction which it is normally endowed….”

The Cable

Senators Following Saraki To CCT Reduce From 81 To 12 (Photos)

Senate President Bukola Saraki has arrived at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) where his trial for alleged false declaration of assets continues.

He arrived at 10:05am in the company of at least 12 senators.

Some of the senators are Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president; Sam Anyanwu, Dino Melaye, and Andy Uba.

Senators at Senate President Bukola Saraki's corruption trial reduce from 81 to 12
Senators at Senate President Bukola Saraki’s corruption trial reduce from 81 to 12

This is the lowest number of senators to accompany him to the CCT since the beginning of his case in September 2015  – the highest being 81.

Also, this is the second day of his trial which started on Tuesday.

Although this is the eighth time the senate president will appear at the CCT, his trial actually started on Tuesday.

The first time was on September 22, 2015, after the tribunal had issued a bench warrant for his arrest. He was accompanied to the tribunal by at least 50 senators on that day.

Senators at Senate President Bukola Saraki's corruption trial reduce from 81 to 12
Senators at Senate President Bukola Saraki’s corruption trial reduce from 81 to 12

On the same day, he entered the dock, but he pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of false declaration of assets brought against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

The second time was on October 21, 2015, when he was accompanied to the tribunal by at least 81 senators.

And the third time was on November 5, 2015, when his lawyers  –Joseph Daodu and Mahmud Magaji  – withdrew from the case in protest of the decision of the tribunal to continue the matter despite an appeal against the constitution and jurisdiction of the tribunal at the supreme court.

Senators at Senate President Bukola Saraki's corruption trial reduce from 81 to 12
Senators at Senate President Bukola Saraki’s corruption trial reduce from 81 to 12

The fourth time was on March 11, after the ruling of the supreme court upholding the jurisdiction of the tribunal to try him while the fifth time was on March 18 when an application to stop his trial was heard.

The sixth time was on March 24 when the tribunal ruled that his trial must continue.

The seventh time was April 5 when the prosecution called its first witness, who narrated how Saraki allegedly laundered billions of naira using fictitious names.

Senators at Senate President Bukola Saraki's corruption trial reduce from 81 to 12
Senators at Senate President Bukola Saraki’s corruption trial reduce from 81 to 12

The senate president had gone the whole hog to challenge his trial at the CCT, but he failed at every turn.

On February 5, the apex court dismissed an appeal to stop his trial paving the way for the continuation of the case at the CCT.

On Tuesday, Danladi Umar, chairman of the CCT, dismissed Saraki’s application for adjournment.

Ruling on the application, Umar held that the issue of jurisdiction of the tribunal had already been settled by the supreme court, adding that a motion for adjournment based on an appeal challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal at the appeal court was unnecessary.

He, therefore, ordered the prosecution to produce its witnesses, and the trial commenced.

The Cable

I’m Happy My CCT Trial Has Commenced – Saraki

Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has said that he is glad that his trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on alleged asset declaration in 2003 has finally commenced.Saraki in statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, said that Tuesday’s proceedings  gave him confidence that “if the trial is conducted fairly” he would “be vindicated.”

The Senate President noted that “even though the prosecution tried to bring in some dramatic narratives, it was clear that they were merely thrashing around and hoping to titillate the public with salacious tales.”

Saraki added that he was “hopeful however that when the time comes, his lawyers will have the opportunity to present his case.”

How Senate President Saraki Stole Kwara Funds To Buy Properties Around The World

The Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT,  today dismissed of a frivolous motion for adjournment brought by the counsel to accused person, Senate President Bukola Saraki, seeking to stop his trial over allegation on how he corruptly enriched himself while he was governor of Kwara state between 2003 and 2011.

When the trial eventually opened on Tuesday before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), the federal government’s prosecution counsel’s witness revealed how the senate president practically stole funds meant for the development of Kwarans to buy choice properties around the world.

Saraki, who is facing a 13-count false assets declaration charge, was arraigned before the tribunal late last year. The prosecution has been unable to open trial in view of the several huddles raised by Saraki, including challenging the CCT’s jurisdiction, the competence of the charge, the propriety of his trial before the tribunal, among others, up to the Supreme Court.

Despite the Supreme Court ruling last February, directing Saraki to submit himself for trial before the CCT, Saraki again objected to his trial, and applied for stay of proceedings, which the tribunal rejected today and directed the prosecution to open its case.

Prosecution lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) promptly called his first witness, who gave details of how Saraki allegedly siphoned Kwara State’s funds, while he was the state’s governor between 2003 and 2011.

The witness, an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Michael Wetkas, who said he was part of the team that investigated the various petitions against Saraki, said investigation revealed, among others, that Saraki was aided by officials of Guaranty Trust Bank in the alleged diversion of Kwara State’s funds.

Wetkas, who was led in evidence by Jacobs, said the investigation of the petitions against Saraki was carried out by a team of investigators drawn from the EFCC, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), among others.

The first prosecution witness told the tribunal that Saraki used his domestic aides to lodge funds he allegedly looted from the Kwara State treasury, into an account he opened with Guarantee Trust Bank.

He said one of the aides, Abdul Adama, made cash lodgements 50 times on the same account to the tune of between N600, 000 to 900, 000 on a single day, while another domestic staff, simply identified as Ubi, made 20 cash lodgements into the same account in the same day.

The chairman of the tribunal Justice Danladi Umar has adjourned till tomorrow for the continuation of the trial.

CCT Will Begin Saraki’s Trial On March 10

Having failed to persuade the Supreme Court to save him from prosecution, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, will on March 10, appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, in Abuja, to face corruption charges the federal government preferred against him.

Saraki whose appeal was thrown out by a seven-man panel of Justices of the apex court on February 5, is answering to a 13-count criminal charge bordering on his alleged false declaration of assets.

The apex court panel headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohamed, had in a unanimous judgment, maintained that Saraki has a criminal case to answer, even as it upheld an earlier verdict of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal which okayed the Senate President for prosecution before the CCT.

Already, the CCT panel which is headed by Justice Danladi Umar, has issued and served hearing notices on all the parties.

The notices were sequel to a letter that was written on behalf of the Federal Government by the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, which notified the tribunal of the judgment of the Supreme Court for the trial to proceed.

It will be recalled that Saraki had after the apex court dismissed as lacking in merit, the appeal he filed with a view to stopping his trial, said he would have his day in the court to prove his innocence of the charge pending against him.

He however expressed his disappointment with the judgment of the apex court which he said was only invited “to rule on some preliminary issues in the process of commencing the trial”.

Saraki was in the charge before the CCT, marked ABT/01/15 and dated September 11, 2015, accused of ‎breaching section 2 of the ‎CCB and Tribunal Act, an offence punishable under section 23(2) of the Act and paragraph 9 of the said Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

Vanguard

Saraki Expresses Disappointment Over Supreme Court Ruling

Press Release

After listening to the ruling of the Supreme Court in the appeal he filed to challenge the process of arraigning him before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki hereby states as follows :

1. He expresses disappointment over the Judgment of the apex court in the country on the six grounds of his appeal

2. He however will like to put it on record that the facts of the substantial matter are not before the Supreme Court since the apex court was only invited to rule on some preliminary issues in the process of commencing the trial.

3. The Senate President believes he will have his day in the court to prove his innocence of the charges preferred against him during the trial proper.

4. Dr. Saraki will like to thank everyone who has expressed support for him from the beginning of the case. He assures everyone that at the end of the day truth will prevail and justice will be served.

Signed

Yusuph Olaniyonu

Saraki’s Supporters Leaves Supreme Court Heartbroken (Photos)

Supporters of the embattled senate president Bukola Saraki, today left premises of the Nigerian Supreme Court heartbroken after the court ruled that their principal should face trial for false declaration of assets while he was governor of Kwara state.

An eyewitness who was at the court premises told Osun Defender that, many of the praise singers hired to chant victory songs left disappointed, head bowed, when the court ruled in favour of the federal government.

In an unanimous judgement read by Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, the court resolved that the Code of Conduct Tribunal was properly constituted and therefore meets the quorum to try Bukola Saraki.

Osun Defender also learnt the Supreme Court ruled that the Code of Conduct Tribunal properly served charges on senate president and that the absence of AGF doesn’t constitute incompetence of charges at Code of Conduct

All the six issues raised against the Appeal Court judgment by Senator Saraki were resolved in favour of the prosecution.

 

People leaving the supreme court People leaving the supreme court1 People leaving the supreme court2 People leaving the supreme court3

Photo Credit: Sahara Reporters

Breaking: Saraki Loses Appeal At Supreme Court, To Face Trial At CCT

The trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki by the Code of Conduct Tribunal will go on after the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision read by Justice Samuel Walter Onnoghen dismissed his appeal against the decision of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal had ruled that the CCT was right to try Saraki on 13 count charges of false assets declaration.

All the six issues raised against the appeal court judgment by Saraki were resolved in favour of the prosecution.

A three-judge panel of the Supreme Court led by a retiring Justice John Fabiyi had on December 4, 2015, ordered a stay of proceeding by the Tribunal pending the determination of Mr. Saraki’s appeal. The court also asked counsel on both sides to submit their briefs of argument within 14 days. The court then fixed February 5, 2016, to deliver its judgement.

Mr. Saraki’s appeal before the country’s apex court contends that the CCT lacks jurisdiction to try him. His lawyers argue that the tribunal was not duly constituted as it comprised two instead of three members provided for by the Constitution. Also, the embattled Senate President’s lawyers claim that the charges against Mr. Saraki were not competent. But the court in a unanimous decision dismissed Mr. Saraki’s appeal, stating the charges were both valid and competent.

The senate president will now face trial at the court of appeal for false declaration of asset on a day to be fixed by the tribunal.

Code Of Conduct Tribunal: Saraki To Know Fate Today

Nigeria’s Supreme Court will give its verdict today in the appeal filed by Senate President Bukola Saraki, challenging his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The court heard lawyers from the various parties on 3 December, 2015.

Saraki is standing trial at the CCT on allegations of false declaration of assets.

At the 3 December hearing of the appeal, Saraki’s lawyer, Mr Joseph Daudu (SAN), told the panel of seven Justices of the apex court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mahmud Mohammed, that his legal team formulated six issues for determination.

He argued that the charge against Saraki could not stand in the face of the law because there was no substantive Attorney-General of the Federation (A-GF) when it was instituted.

He said that as at the time Saraki was put on trial, there was no evidence that an AGF delegated his power to institute criminal charge against him as required by the law.

Daudu also argued that the tribunal was not properly constituted as stipulated by law.

According to him, the law provides that the CCT shall only sit on trial with a three-member panel.

He said that the tribunal has only two members, including the Chairman, Justice Danladi Umar, and cannot form a quorum.

The lawyer further argued that, by implication, if there would be any disagreement on issues in the course of the trial, the chairman would impose his views on the other member.

Daudu also argued that the tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to try criminal matters.

He said the tribunal was only established by law to serve as a disciplinary committee for public officers and not a court that can assume criminal jurisdiction.

Counsel to the Federal Government, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), ‎however, asked the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.

He said the CCT was properly constituted and has power to go ahead with two members.

He argued that two of the three members of the tribunal formed a quorum in compliance with Interpretation Act.

He said the constitution does not insist that there must be three-man panel before the CCT can hear and determine cases.

Jacobs also argued that in the absence of AGF, the law empowers the Solicitor-General of the Federation to institute a criminal charge against any person.

He, therefore, urged the court to resolve the issue in favour of the Federal Government and order Saraki to face his trial before the tribunal.

Saraki took his case to the Supreme Court following the verdict of the Court of Appeal in which two out of three-man panel ruled that his trial at CCT was in order.

Justice Moore Adumein , who read the majority verdict on 30 October, 2015 upheld the trial .

He said the tribunal, which docked the Senate President on 22 September and 21 October was properly constituted, thus trashing one of the grounds of the objections to the trial by Senate President and his lawyers.

The dissenting third judge, Justice Joseph Ekanem however ruled that Saraki’s appeal has merit.

On the contrary, the majority judges, including Justice Mohammed Mustapha, in their verdict said the tribunal led by Danladi Umar could sit with the chairman and one other member.

Agumanen said they relied on section 28 of the Interpretation Act to reach the decision.

He said the Code of Conduct Tribunal and Code of Conduct Bureau Act and the constitution did not talk about a quorum.

In a further blow to the Senate President, the majority judges said the CCT has criminal jurisdiction, though limited.

The judges also ruled that the Code of Conduct Tribunal has powers to issue a bench warrant.