By Anthony Ogbonna
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, is back at the Code of Conduct Tribunal to face the three remaining charges, after the court struck out 15 of the 18 counts preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Saraki is standing trial on allegations of false asset declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.
The Justice Tinuade Wilson-Akomolafe-led three man panel of Appeal Court had ruled on December 12, 2017 that Dr. Saraki had a case to answer pertaining to the three counts after it struck out 15 of the 18 counts.
It had submitted that Saraki should defend himself in the 4,5 and 6 count charges which bordered on properties he acquired at number 17 a and b Mac Donald street Ikoyi, Lagos state.
The court therefore ordered the Senate President to answer to the charges where, while his banker gave in witness that Dr. Saraki bought the properties through loan, the Senate President however had given in evidence that he bought the properties through the sales of commodities.
Dr. Saraki had arrived the CCT and awaited the CCT chairman, Danladi Umar, who, few days ago, had criminal charges filed against him by EFCC.
Saraki closed its defence after calling on its first witness, Dr Ademola Adebo.
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.
Although, Saraki, through his counsel, Paul Usoro SAN at the commencement of proceedings 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.
With this development, the two parties would on February 27 address the tribunal on contentious issues only after which a date for final judgment would be fixed.
Meanwhile, Dr. Saraki, has described his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) as ‘House of Cards’ saying that ‘as much as many Nigerians want to continue to believe that this my case is merely about asset declaration irregularities, the maneuvers, manipulation, intrigues, schemes, and “House of Cards” nature of this whole case proves otherwise’.
Saraki in a series of tweets on Tuesday morning, said: “I sympathize with the Chairman of the Tribunal, Mr. Danladi Umar, for his travail in the hands of the EFCC which suddenly woke up 4 days to the resumption of this case to file criminal charges against him.
“You will recall that in April 2016, when our lawyers asked the tribunal chairman to recuse himself from our case, because of the criminal investigation against him, the EFCC swiftly cleared Mr. Umar of any wrongdoing.
“Now, I find it amusing, that in a dramatic turnaround, this same EFCC now thinks that Mr. Umar has a case to answer just before the commencement of my case before him. What has changed since April 2016?
“As much as many Nigerians want to continue to believe that this my case is merely about asset declaration irregularities, the maneuvers, manipulation, intrigues, schemes, and “House of Cards” nature of this whole case proves otherwise.
“I really wonder whether those who genuinely love this Government appreciate the damage that all this is doing to our so-called ‘War Against Corruption.’
However, in all of this, my confidence in the judiciary and its ability to do justice in all cases, remains unshaken.”