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Saraki asks tribunal to dismiss false assets declaration charges against him … Tribunal reserves ruling

Nigeria sits on ‘ticking time bomb’ – Saraki

The Senate President Bukola Saraki has pointedly told the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to dismiss the false assets declaration charges brought against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja by the Federal Government on the ground that no prima facie case has been established against him.

He told the Tribunal that from the 18-count charges and the totality of evidence adduced by the government witnesses, he had not been linked in any way with the allegations against him.

In his no-case submission argued by his counsel, Mr. Kanu Agabi (SAN), Saraki said the prosecution failed to establish the charges against him and as such there was no need for him to be ordered to enter defence by the Tribunal in respect of the charges.

He said that the charges against him were predicated on petitions and that throughout the prosecution’s case, the reports of investigation on the petitions were never made available to the Tribunal for verification.

Saraki’s counsel pleaded with the tribunal to painstakingly read all the petitions so as to be able to establish that the petitions have nothing to do with the Senate President.

Apart from the fact that the reports on the investigation on the petitions were no made available to the tribunal by the Federal Government, the counsel submitted that none of the petitioners was invited as witness in the charges against the defendant.

Agabi specifically informed the tribunal that he made a no case submission for his client because the charges against him were founded on faceless petitions and pleaded with the Tribunal to dismiss the charges so as discourage writers of faceless petitions.

The senior lawyer also drew the attention of the tribunal to counts 1, 2, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 16, adding that in the counts Saraki was charged with false declaration of assets by making no declaration of assets.

Agabi insisted that the charges were full of anomalies and also inconsistencies adding that false declaration by refusal to declare is unknown to law.

He maintained that Saraki declared his assets as required by law and that no one can make declaration that the statement of a public officer is false unless such a person is authorized by law to do so.

Throughout the prosecution’s case against Saraki, Agabi a former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice said that nobody was mentioned as having declared the assets declared by Saraki in his assets declaration forms as false.

Agabi specifically referred the tribunal to the evidence of Mr. Samuel Madojemu, the Head of Investigation and Intelligence Unit of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and his affidavit evidence adding that throughout his testimony, he based his evidence on hearsay from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), adding that witnesses ought to be called to prove the case were no called.

The senior lawyer therefore urged the tribunal headed by Hon Danladi Yakubu Umar to decide the no case submission on justice and not on sentiments from the prosecution.

However, in his opposition to the no case submission, counsel to the Federal Government, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) insisted that serious prima facie case has been established to warrant the defendant to be called upon by the Tribunal to enter his defence in the charges against him.

He drew the attention of the Tribunal to some assets forms of the defendant, adding that investigations established false declaration of assets.

Rotimi told the Tribunal that discharging the defendant at a no case point level will defeat the fight against corruption and purpose of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

He maintained that name of the defendant was mentioned in the petitions and that even, without that, a person can still be prosecuted without any petition against him.

The prosecution counsel urged the Tribunal not to form opinion, evaluate evidence or make observations on the facts at this level and urged the Tribunal to hold that a prima facie case had been effectively established against the defendant.

The Tribunal chairman, Hon. Danladi Yakubu Umar, after taking arguments from both sides announced that he will sit down with his colleague on the panel to decide on the no case arguments and that a date for ruling will be communicated to the lawyers when the ruling is ready.

It will be recalled the Federal Government had in September 2015 slammed charges of false declaration of assets on Saraki while the charges were amended three times in the cause of the trial.

Saraki’s trial was initiated by government shortly after he emerged Senate President against the government preferred candidate.

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