Code Of Conduct Tribunal Adjourns Saraki’s Trial Indefinitely

The trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has been adjourned indefinitely.

Chairman of the Tribunal, Mr. Danladi Umar, announced the adjournment in a short ruling on the resumption of trial in Abuja today.

He said the tribunal would await the decision of the Supreme Court on the appeals filed by both Saraki and the Federal Government.

Saraki is being tried on three of the 18 count-charge for false declaration of assets.

Umar gave the ruling after listening to the addresses of both the defence and prosecuting lawyers.

In his address, the prosecuting counsel Mr Rotimi Jacobs urged the Tribunal to proceed with taking the final address from the parties in the suit.

He based his request on the fact that the defence had already opened and closed their case and the Tribunal had adjourned for the adoption of final addresses.

However, Counsel to the Senate President Mr Kanu Agabi urged the Tribunal to be mindful of the dignity of the Supreme Court and prayed for an indefinite adjournment.

Agreeing with the defence counsel, the CCT chairman held that the Tribunal “has decided to tarry awhile so that the integrity of Supreme Court would not be played with.”

“The Tribunal will adjourn this matter sine die pending the outcome of the appeals at the Supreme Court,” he added.

On Tuesday last week, the Tribunal had adjourned the case till March 8 to hear the final address by the parties in the suit and for its final judgment.

The parties will have to await the decisions of the Supreme Court to proceed with the rest of the trial.

CCT: Saraki’s Trial Resumes On March 8

The Code Of Conduct Tribunal on Tuesday adjourned the trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki till March 8 to enable the defence reply to the prosecution’s written address.

Mr. Saraki wass arraigned in 2015 by the federal government for alleged false declaration of asset after he served as governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.

The tribunal last year acquitted him on all the charges and discharged him but the Court of Appeal sustained three of the counts in the charges after an appeal by the prosecution, and referred them back to the tribunal for retrial.

At the previous hearing February 6, Mr. Saraki had closed his defence after presenting only one witness instead of the four witnesses he initially indicated he would call.

The hearing on Tuesday started with an argument between the defence counsel, Kanu Agabi, and prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, on who submitted brief late.

Mr. Agabi argued that the defence was eager for the trial to be brought to an end but that the prosecution was delaying the trial.

Both counsel were supposed to submit their written addresses on Tuesday.

According to Mr.Agabi ,the prosecution counsel only sent him his written address on Monday, leaving the defence with no time to go over it and prepare its reply.

But Mr. Rotimi argued that it was the defense that was delaying the process by not filling their brief on time.

He recalled that he had asked for 14 days to submit his brief while the defense asked for seven days but that the defence could not meet up within that seven days it asked for.

“We filled our own written address less than the period we asked for. If anybody has made it impossible for this trial to go on, it is the defendant and not Rotimi Jacobs, (SAN)” the prosecution counsel said

The defence counsel, Mr Agabi responded by saying weekend days were not to be counted among the days he requested for to make his submission.

“We ask Your Lordship for time to check what he has submitted in his address,” he said to the judge, Danladi Umar.

Mr. Umar granted the request of the defence and adjourned the case to 8 March.

The judge said on the adjourned date, both counsel must submit their written addresses, urging them to make the addresses brief and to be concluded on the same day to enable him set a day to deliver the judgement.

Reps Accuse AGF, EFCC Of Manipulating Course Of Justice In Saraki’s Trial

The House of Representatives on Thursday accused the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of alleged “manipulation” of justice by reopening the corruption case against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar.

The House noted that Malami and the EFCC had earlier cleared Umar of any wrongdoing in the alleged corruption act involving about N1.8billion.

However, the House said the same AGF and EFCC had made a U-turn recently by filing two corruption charges against Umar before the Federal Capital Territory High Court.

Umar presides over several high-profile corruption cases at the CCT, including the celebrated case involving the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and some top judicial officers.

In a resolution in Abuja, lawmakers condemned the actions of the AGF and the EFCC in the renewed filing of corruption charges against Umar, accusing them of plotting to arm-twist Umar so that he could deliver judgments in a “pre-determined direction” on the cases before him at the CCT.

The Minority Whip of the House, Mr. Yakubu Barde, who moved a motion on the matter, recalled that the same AGF and EFCC had “previously cleared the said Umar of the very same allegations that form the basis of the two-counts (against him).”

He argued that it was not possible for the same judge who was facing corruption trial to preside over other corruption cases, including Saraki’s, and be expected to be fair to all parties.

The motion reads partly, “The House is further concerned that the EFCC had previously issued a statement absolving Justice Umar of any wrongdoing and is now being charged and asked to try the Senate President with the tendency to give an impression that a game is being arranged to meet certain pre-determined result, portraying our legal system as capable of being manipulated, should be of great concern to everyone.”

Alleged False Asset Declaration: Saraki Closes Defence After One Witness

** Witness says no contradiction in Saraki Asset Declaration Form

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki standing trial on allegations of false asset declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT on Tuesday closed its defence after calling on its first witness, Dr Ademola Adebo.

Although, Saraki, through his counsel, Paul Usoro SAN at the commencement of proceedings yesterday told the Tribunal that he has lined up four witnesses to testify in his favour.

He however, made a u-turn when the legal team decided to limit themselves to the first witness.

Shortly after the lone defence witness was cross examined by the prosecution witness, Rotimi Jacobs SAN, the tribunal Chairman Danladi Umar asked parties for direction for further proceedings, Kanu Agabi SAN, lead counsel to Saraki conferred with his client in the box and at the end of the conversation, announced that the defence would no longer call the remaining witnesses.

He consequently applied for a date for adjournment to enable parties adopt their final addresses.

Chairman of tribunal, subsequently adjourned the matter till February 27.

Although Saraki was arraigned in 2015 on 18 count charge, the tribunal had on June 13, 2017, discharged and acquitted Saraki on the grounds of a no case submissoon.

The tribunal had held that the charges against him were based on hearsay.

However, the court of Appeal in delivering judgment on an appeal filed by the Federal government nullified 15 of the charges and ordered the Senate President to respond to only three counts, prompting Saraki to return to the CCT yesterday.

With this development, the two parties would on February 27 address the tribunal on contentious issues only after which a date for final judgment be fixed.

Meanwhile, during cross examination, a defense witness, Dr. Ademola Adebo told the tribunal that there was no contradictions in Saraki’s asset declaration forms as regards charges four, five and six that the Court of Appeal asked Saraki to explain.

Appeal Court Insists Saraki Must Face CCT Trial

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja had on Wednesday ruled that the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki must face trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.

The court also dismissed 15 out of the 18 counts of false assets declaration instituted against the Senate President, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The Justice Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson-led three man panel unanimously ordered the Senate President to return to the CCT to face trial on three of the counts.

The Appeal Court had earlier reserved its judgement on the appeal filed by the Federal Government challenging the acquittal of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.

Saraki is facing trial on an 18-count charge of false asset declaration and other related offences levelled against him by the Federal government.