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IN NUMBERS: Saraki in the eyes of the court

Innocent Anaba

In four years, here is how Senate President Bukola Saraki has visited the court and why.

11 September 2015

In charge number ABT/01/15, dated 11 September 2015 and filed before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, Senator Bukola Saraki was accused of offenses ranging from anticipatory declaration of assets to making a false declaration of assets in his assets declaration forms.

Saraki, court
Dr Bukola Saraki in the accused box during the CCT trial

He was also accused of failing to declare some assets he acquired while in office as governor of Kwara State, acquiring assets beyond his legitimate earnings, and operating foreign accounts while being a public officer

An official of the Code of Conduct Bureau, Peter Danladi, stated in an affidavit in support of the charge that the investigation of the various petitions of corruption, theft, money laundering, among others, against Saraki in 2010, was conducted jointly by the officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, CCB and Department of State Service, DSS.

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18 September 2015

Saraki became the first Senate President in Nigeria to be issued with arrest warrants, after Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar, duly signed the arrest warrant against Saraki on September 18, 2015.

Saraki, court
Dr Bukola Saraki

18 March 2016

After months of media war against the Federal Government over his ordeal at the CCT, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, Saraki’s lead counsel and ex-Attorney General of the Federation, led a team of 79 lawyers to defend Saraki at the tribunal.

Saraki, court

1 April 2017

While the CCT trial was ongoing, the EFCC on April 1, 2017, released a report which indicted Saraki and some of his aides in the alleged laundering of up to N3.5 billion from the Paris Club Loan Refund.

The EFCC investigation was presented to President Muhammadu Buhari in a report delivered on 10 March, five days before the Senate rejected acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu. However, in a swift reaction, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Saraki, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in a statement denied the claims. Saraki was never charged with any crime relating to the indictment.

Senate, court
Acting EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu after his rejection at Senate

14 June 2017

On June 14, 2017, the CCT, sitting in Abuja discharged and acquitted Saraki, in the 18 count charge of corruption, false declaration of assets charge brought against him by the Federal Government.

The tribunal held that the evidence adduced against Saraki by the Federal Government was bereft of probate value and manifestly unreliable to hold the charges against the defendant.

Saraki, court
Dr Bukola Saraki

The chairman of the tribunal, Danladi Umar said the prosecution at the close of the case failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendant.

Umar said the four witnesses called by the prosecution to testify in the matter gave contradictory evidence that was manifestly unreliable to convict the defendant or order him to enter his defense.

The Federal Government, however, appeal the CCT judgment.

12 December 2017

Delivering judgment on the appeal filed against Saraki’s acquittal by the Federal Government, the Court of Appeal on December 12, 2017, ordered the tribunal to try Saraki on three out of the 18 counts amended charges bordering on false declaration of assets brought against him.

The Appeal Court also held that the prosecution failed to adduce evidence to substantiate the 15 of the counts preferred against Saraki. Not satisfied with the Appellate Court decision, Saraki approached the Supreme Court for intervention.

Saraki, court
Dr Bukola Saraki

6 July 2018

On July 6, 2018, the Supreme Court dismissed all 18 charges of corruption and false asset declaration brought against Saraki. A five-member panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Dattijo Mohammed, held that the decision of the Appeal Court to agree with the tribunal in one breath and order Mr Saraki’s return to the CCT in another amounted to a “judicial summersault.” The justices in a decision read by Justice Centus Nweze held that the prosecution was duty-bound to produce a witness with direct links to the evidence.

They said the failure of the prosecution to produce such a witness rendered its case defective. Justice Nweze said it was ironical for the appeal court to submit that the prosecution failed to bring those with direct knowledge of the evidence and still proceed to rule that some of the charges were meritorious from the same set of pieces of evidence already declared as hearsay.

“This court will not lend its jurisdiction to such a charade and caricature of justice,” the Supreme Court ruled, describing the decision of the appeal court as a grave error.

Saraki, court
Dr Bukola Saraki

14 September 2018

An advocacy group, Legal Defence and Assistance Project, LEDAP, on September 14, 2018 filed a suit before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja seeking to declare the seat of Saraki and 55 other lawmakers vacant following their decisions to defected to other political parties before the expiration of their tenure.

The group, in the suit prayed the court for an interpretation of Section 68(1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution with regards as to whether any member of the National Assembly, who resigns from the political party that sponsored his election before the expiration of the term for which he was elected, automatically loses his seat in the assembly.

Saraki
Dr Bukola Saraki

The group is also seeking a declaration that the lawmakers were no longer entitled to receive any remuneration due to a member of the National Assembly and that any of such remuneration after their date of defection be refunded to the Federal Government.

The suit had proceeded unchallenged until Saraki and other defendants approached the court after judgment date had been fixed. Trial judge has, however, adjourned the matter to allow Saraki and others present their case.

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