Assets Declaration: Supreme Court Fixes Date To Rule On Saraki’s Case

The Supreme Court has set July 6 to deliver judgment in the appeal filed by the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, challenging 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).

The apex court fixed the date on Thursday in Abuja after hearing the appeal and cross-appeal filed by the Senate President and the anti-graft agency over the allegations of false asset declaration.

Senator Saraki is contending that there is no prima facia case against him and as such, the apex court should uphold his no case submission which was upheld by the CCT.

Counsel to the Senate President, Mr Kanu Agabi, told the court that the law was not followed in filing the case against his client.

He added that section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) Act stipulates that only an authorised person can verify whether a person’s asset declaration was properly done or not.

Agabi maintained that in the instant case, all four witnesses presented by the prosecution at the CCT did not meet the requirements stipulated by law.

He, therefore, asked the court to uphold his appeal and dismiss all the charges against him.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, who filed a cross-appeal, asked the court to quash the no case submission upheld by the CCT and ask the tribunal to retry the Senate President on all 18 counts preferred against him.

Jacobs argued that the section of the law relied on by the Senate President was not mandatory and that based on a whistleblower information or petition, the Attorney-General felt there was a breach of the law and ordered the investigation which led to the prosecution of the Senate President.

When asked if Saraki was invited based on the findings of the investigation, the prosecutor answered in the affirmative, and when asked who the Senate President made a statement to, he told the court that it was the EFCC and not the CCB.

He, however, insisted that the Senate President had a case to answer and as such, his cross-appeal seeking to quash the no-case submission upheld by the CCT to should be allowed.

The CCT had on June 14, 2017, quashed an 18-count of false asset declaration and money laundering against Saraki by the EFCC for lacking in merit. The tribunal agreed with the Senate President that he had no case to answer.

On January 14, 2018, the appellate court agreed in part with the lower court but held that he had a case to answer in counts 4, 5, and 6 which had to do with his purchase of properties in the Ikoyi area of Lagos State.

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.”