Breaking: Over 66 Lawyers to Defend Saraki at CCT, Case Adjourned To March 18

The prosecution of Senate President, Bukola Saraki over assets declaration matters, has been adjourned to March 18.
Both the Prosecution and Defence Counsels agreed that the date will be for the argument of the motion on jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to try Senate President Bukola Saraki on a charge of alleged false asset declaration slammed on him by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
President of the CCT, Danladi Umar, asked the Defence Counsel to ensure that he serves all motions and processes on the prosecution Counsel to avoid further delay of the trial.
He therefore adjourned the case to Friday, March 18, 2016, for moving of the motion and possible hearing of the substantive matter.
Indeed, the trial of Senate President which resumed Friday had the trapping of ‘very important case’.
First the Senate President stormed the Tribunal with over 30 senators on his train, that included, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Ben Murray Bruce, Stella Oduah, Hope Uzodinma, Shehu Sani, Dino Melaye, and Sam Anyanwu are among the senators.
Immediately the case was called for hearing, the lead Defence Counsel, Kanu Agabi (SAN) announced that 66 lawyers were in court to defend the Senate President.
Earlier in the day, Saraki informed the Nigerian public that as a firm believer in rule of law, he intends to totally submit himself to the due process of the law.
In a statement signed by Hon. Gbenga Makanjuola, the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Senate President, said Saraki and his team of lawyers have earlier submitted an application to quash the illegitimate suit being brought against him before the CCT based on several alleged discrepancies found in his asset declaration form.
The statement reads in part: “As the Nigerian carefully follows the proceedings of the case, we must all be guided by the fact that a basic scrutiny of Section 3, Paragraph D of the Act that establishes the CCT and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) states in explicit terms that before any complaint(if any) is forwarded to the CCBt for adjudication, the public officer against whom a complaint is made must be given the opportunity to either deny or admit the claims.
“As it stands, Nigerians must ask why this fundamental and indispensable condition for a trial at the CCT has not been followed. “What this means is that the condition precedent mandates that Dr. Saraki, as every other citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is entitled to, should have been given the opportunity to explain any perceived inaccuracy, but he was never given the opportunity to do so.
“Secondly and more crucially, the application submitted by the Senate President draws attention to the fact that the 13-year-old declaration forms on which the majority of the impending suit is predicated, were examined and investigated by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) at the time of submission and were found satisfactory to the Bureau’s requirements at the time. “Given that for 13 years, all the documents from the Senate President’s asset declarations from 2003, 2007 and 2011 were accessible by the Bureau for investigation. “Saraki’s application states that the condition precedence should have been drawn to it, to give the Senate President the opportunity to explain and address any identified issues.
“In this regard, as the trial begins, Nigerians should note that this outright non-observance of the rule of law, reaffirms the belief that this trial is borne from political mischief and malice associated with the timeliness and nature of this suit. READ ALSO: Supreme Court Suspends Saraki’s Trial At CCT.
“As the head of Nigeria’s legislative branch, Dr. Saraki is confident that justice will ultimately prevail and he is ready, willing and prepared to submit himself to all proceedings that adhere to the strict dictates of the law. He believes that the law must take its righteous course and reassures Nigerians of his commitment to serving the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, the statement noted.
The supreme court had on Friday, February 5 dismissed the appeal of Saraki, the Senate president to stop his case at the code of conduct tribunal. Also, on November 5, 2015, Saraki’s lawyers walked out of the CCT courtroom after the tribunal ruled that the trial must continue despite the pending appeal at the supreme court.
The Supreme Court, through its judgment, had thus paved the way for the trial to begin after dismissing the Senate President’s objection to the validity of the charges and the jurisdiction of the CCT to hear the case.
Saraki was arraigned on 13 counts of false assets declaration on September 22, 2015.
In the charges instituted by the Federal Government, Saraki was accused of making false assets declaration in his forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau as a two-term Governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.
The Senate President, who was said to have submitted four assets declaration forms investigated by the CCB, was allegedly found to have “corruptly acquired many properties while in office as the Governor of Kwara State but failed to declare some of them in the said forms earlier filled and submitted.”
He also allegedly made an anticipatory declaration of assets upon his assumption of office as governor, which he later acquired.
He was also accused of sending money abroad for the purchase of property in London and that he maintained an account outside Nigeria while serving as a governor.
Saraki initially refused to appear before the tribunal, prompting the CCT to issue a bench warrant against him.
He voluntarily submitted himself to the Tribunal before the arrest warrant could be executed.
The Tribunal rejected his request for the quashing of the 13 counts shortly after he was arraigned on September 22, 2015.
He appealed to the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, against the decision of the CCT to continue the trial.
But by a two-to-one split decision of its three-man bench, led by Justice Moore Admein, the Court of Appeal dismissed the Senate President’s appeal.
Saraki, in his further appeal to the Supreme Court, asked the apex court to quash the charges filed against him, citing among his seven grounds of appeal, that the CCT lacked jurisdiction to try him as it was constituted by two instead of three members.
But a seven-man panel of the apex court presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, unanimously ruled in its judgment on February 5 that Saraki’s appeal against the jurisdiction of the CCT and the competence of the charges lacked merit.
Justice Walter Onnoghen, who delivered the lead judgment, dismissed all of Saraki’s seven grounds of appeal, affirming that the charges instituted against him were valid and that the tribunal was validly constituted with requisite jurisdiction to try him.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, and other members of the full panel of the apex court, comprising Justices Tanko Muhammad, Sylvester Ngwuta, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Chima Nweze and Amiru Sanusi, also consented to the judgment.

Author: News Editor

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