•Insists tribunal lacks jurisdiction to try him
•You must face trial, FG replies

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

The embattled Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, yesterday, adduced reasons     the 13-count criminal charge the Federal Government preferred against him before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, in Abuja, should be quashed.

Saraki, who was alleged to have falsified the assets he declared while in office as the Governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011, insisted that the allegations levelled against him were not different from the ones that were also slammed against the erstwhile governor of Lagos state and national leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu.

In a motion he argued through his lead counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, Saraki, urged the Justice Danladi Umar-led CCT panel to go ahead and discharge him the same way it did for Tinubu.

He noted that Tinubu was freed on the premise that FG failed to fulfil necessary condition precedents capable of conferring jurisdiction on the tribunal to hear the substantive charge against the defendant.

saraki dockSaraki said the same conditions have not also been met in the instant charge the government entered against him.

Specifically, he observed that the tribunal had in the case against Tinubu, stressed that the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, which recommended the prosecution, ought to have invited the defendant to clarify discrepancies in the assets he declared, before the charge was initiated.

Agabi said his client was never invited by the CCB to admit or deny the alleged  irregularities that were discovered in four assets declaration forms he submitted to it.

“My lord he has not been invited up till now. That was the same reason  you gave for allowing Tinubu to go home, on the ground that ten other governors were invited by the CCB to make clarifications on discrepancies in the assets they declared.

“But till now, the defendant here, who is the Senate President of this country has not been invited. It is our position that the law is not discriminatory”, Agabi submitted.

More so, Agabi queried the powers of the Attorney General of the Federation to institute the charge, a responsibility he said was legally vested on the CCB to the exclusion of any other anti-graft agency in the country.

He said the laws establishing the Bureau stipulated that any one perceived to have falsely declared his assets, must be summoned to give explanations.

“The defendant was never afforded such opportunity, not even a chance to kneel down and apologise”, Agabi stated, insisting that the charge was not only politically motivated, but also brought in bad faith.

He said failure by the CCB to summon his client to give explanations was not only fatal to the charge but indicated a presumption of regularity in favour of the defendant.

Maintaining that his client was denied fair hearing, Agabi contended that Saraki’s fresh application was totally different from what was earlier decided by the Supreme Court.

Agabi urged the tribunal to quash the charge against his client and discharge him accordingly.

Saraki who stormed the tribunal yesterday with 80 lawyers, was accompanied by more than 60 Senators, including the Senate leader, Ali Ndume, Andy Ubah and former governor of Abia State, Theodore Orji.

Meantime, FG, yesterday, opposed Saraki’s application which it said constituted a gross abuse of the judicial process.

Government lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, urged the tribunal to dismiss the application which he said was only aimed at scuttling the trial of the defendant.

Jacobs relied on sections 220, 221 and 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, and argued that the law provided that such objections must be considered along with the substantive case and ruling delivered at the end of the trial.


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