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Thursday, 8 June 2017

Dismiss FG’s charges against me, Saraki begs tribunal

Dismiss FG’s charges against me, Saraki begs tribunal

RULING ON NO CASE SUBMISSION RESERVED

Senate President Bukola Saraki on Thursday asked the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to dismiss the 18-count charge, bordering on false assets declaration brought against him by the Federal Government on the ground that no prima facie case has been established against him.

Saraki told the tribunal that from the charges preferred against him and the totality of evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses, had not linked in anyway with the allegations against him.

In his no-case submission argued by his counsel, Kanu Agabi (SAN), the Senate President told the two-member panel of the tribunal headed by Danladi Yakubu Umar that the prosecution failed to link him to the alleged offences and added that, there was no need for him enter his defence in the matter.

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Agabi, in his argument, said the charges against the Senate President were predicated on petitions and that throughout the prosecution’s case, the report of investigations on the petitions were never made available to the tribunal for verification.

He urged the tribunal to painstakingly read all the petitions to enable it establish that the petitions have nothing to do with the Senate President.

According to the defence counsel, “Apart from the fact that the reports on the investigation on the petitions were not made available to the tribunal by the Federal Government, none of the petitioners was invited as witness in the charges against the defendant.”

Agabi told the tribunal that he filed 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 to discourage writers of faceless petitions.

The senior lawyer also drew the attention of the tribunal to count 1, 2, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 16, where the Senate President was charged with false declaration of assets by making no declaration of assets, insisting that the charges were full of anomalies and were also inconsistent as false declaration of assets by refusal to declare is unknown to law.

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

Throughout the prosecution’s case against Saraki, Agabi said nobody was mentioned as having declared the assets declared by Saraki in his assets declaration form as false.

He referred the tribunal to the evidence of Samuel Madojemu, the Head of Investigation and Intelligence Unit of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and his affidavit evidence and added that throughout his testimony, he based his evidence on hearsay from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Agabi said that the witnesses that the prosecution ought to have called to prove their case were no called and urged the tribunal to decide the no case submission on justice and not on sentiments weaved by the prosecution.

However, in his opposition to the no case submission, counsel to the Federal Government, 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 slammed against him.

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

Jacobs 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, just as 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 to hold that a prima facie case had been effectively established against the defendant.

After listening to the submissions of all the parties in the matter on the no case submission filed by the Senate President, the Tribunal Chairman, Danladi Yakubu Umar announced that he will sit with his colleague on the panel to look at arguments on the no case submission and that a date for ruling will be communicated to lawyers to both parties when the ruling is ready.

The Federal Government had in September 2015 arraigned the Senate President on charges bordering on false and improper declaration of assets allegedly acquired when he held sway as Governor of Kwara State from 2003-2011.

Saraki however pleaded not guilty to the entire charges preferred against him by the Federal Government.

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