The Federal Government on Thursday re-arraigned Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on an 18-count amended charge over false asset declaration and money laundering at the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja.
The Prosecution team, led by Mr Rotimi Jacobs, filed the amended charge on Feb. 8 after the trial had gone underway with a number of prosecution witnesses testifying. Saraki was initially standing trial on a 13-count charge for alleged false asset declaration at the tribunal.
The trial, which started in September 2015, was later amended in 2016, with an addition of three charges, making it 16-count.
The Chairman of the tribunal, Mr Umar Danladi, held that the court was compelled to give a short adjournment for the defendant’s team to study the new charge.
The matter was then adjourned until Feb. 23 for the defendant to take his fresh plea. At the resumption of the trial, Saraki made his plea, where he denied all the allegations in the charge.
He said his trial was politically-motivated, adding that the allegations included in the charge made “no sense” to him.
Saraki’s plea was immediately followed by the testimony of a prosecution witness, Mr Samuel Madojemu. Madojemu, an official of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), had earlier given evidence on Feb. 8.
He insisted that Saraki failed to capture his properties at No. 15a and 17a Macdonald street, Ikoyi, Lagos in the asset declaration form.
The witness said most of the documents tendered as exhibits were obtained by EFCC operatives and validated by the bureau.
Newsmen report that the amended charge also borders around false assets declaration and money laundering between 2003 and 2011 when the defendant was governor of Kwara. Meanwhile, the presiding judge had adjourned trial until March 2.