After several attempts by Senate President Bukola Saraki to stop his arraignment before the Code of Conduct Tribunal sitting in Abuja, he eventually appeared on Tuesday and pleaded not guilty.
The Senate President pleaded not guilty to the 13-count charge prefered against him by the Federal Government.
Saraki was docked over allegations bordering on false and improper declaration of assets allegedly acquired during his tenure as Governor of Kwara State from 2003-2011.
According to the charge sheet No. CCT/ABJ/01/15, Saraki was also accused of operating an American Express credit card account during his tenure as Governor, where he allegedly wired at least $3.4 million to from a Nigerian account.
In a bid to stop his arraignment before the tribunal, Saraki last Thursday, approached the Federal High Court in Abuja with a motion ex-parte seeking to restrain the Federal Government, Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal from arraigning him.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court in a ruling in his chambers summoned the chairmen of CCB, CCT and a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Muslim S. Hassan to appear before it last Monday to show cause why Saraki’s request should not be granted.
After the refusal of the Senate President, who was represented by Joseph.B Daudu, SAN, and Mahmud Magaji (SAN) to appear before the tribunal to take his plea last week, Prosecution Counsel, Hassan asked the tribunal to issue a bench warrant of arrest on him for disobedience of court orders.
The tribunal chairman, who over ruled the arguments of Saraki’s counsel, challenging the jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter, issued a bench warrant of arrest against the number three citizen of the country, with a specific order on the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase to arrest and bring him before the tribunal last Monday.
Saraki, on Monday rushed to the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division with an exparte application seeking to set aside the warrant of arrest and to also stop his trial at the tribunal.
But, the three-member panel of the appellate court, preside over by Justice Moore Adumein refused to grant his application and asked him to appear before the tribunal to take his plea.
At Tuesday’s resumed hearing, Saraki’s lead Defence Counsel, Joseph Daudu (SAN), challenged the jurisdiction of tribunal, saying that CCT is not a court of criminal jurisdiction and as such, the administration of criminal court does not apply.
The tribunal Chairman, Justice Danladi Umar, suspended the earlier warrant of arrest issued against Saraki, saying that, “the defendant, having brought himself voluntarily will be allowed to go free.”
The suit was adjourned till October 21,22,23, 2015, for hearing.