Update: CCT Frees Saraki on False Assets Declaration Charges

The Code of Conduct Tribunal sitting in Abuja, Wednesday, discharged and acquitted the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on the alleged false asets declaration charges filed against him by the Federal Government.
The tribunal held that there was no prima facie case against the defendant.
Delivering a ruling on Saraki’s no case submission, tribunal Chairman, Danladi Umar, held that no reasonable tribunal will convict the defendant based on the evidence produced by the prosecution.
Saraki had in his no case submission urged the tribunal to dismiss the charges against him on the reason that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses were based on hear say.
But Prosecution insisted that the Senate President has a case to answer and asked the tribunal chairman to order Saraki to open his defence.
Umar in a ruling on Wednesday held that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie against Saraki.
The tribunal stated that the evidence of the prosecution witnesses are manifestly unrelaible that no court can attached value to it, not to talk convicting on it.
According to the tribunal, the testimony of the third prosecution witness, who admitted that his report was based on information from his team members, rendered the whole evidences linking the defendant to the alleged offences invalid, adding that no conviction can be made on hearsay.
The tribunal also noted that the admittance of the first prosecution witness under cross examination that the defendant was not invited for clarification on grey areas in his assets form grossly affected the competence of the charges.
Another reason for dismissing the charges was the claim by the second prosecution witness that all documents linking Saraki to the alleged offences were lost in a fire accident.
The tribunal therefore agreed with Saraki that the evidences so far placed by the prosecution were unreliable and do not warrant him to open his defence.
Umar also held that the four witnesses called by the prosecution to testify in the matter gave contradictory evidence that were manifestly unreliable to convict the defendant or order him to enter his defence.
The Chairman specifically referred to the evidence of the third prosecution witness Samuel Madojemu, to the effect that oral investigation was conducted on Saraki and that there was no written report on Saraki, adding that such an evidence has no probate value upon which the tribunal can hold the charges against the defendant.
According to him, Madojemu as head of investigation and intelligent department of the Codeof Conduct Bureau did not in any way help the prosecution in his evidence where he (Madojemu) claimed that all his avveredment in the affidavit were based on information supplied to him by an undisclosed team of investigators.
Umar further said that the report of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) put at the disposal of the tribunal was more of intelligence gathering rather than conventional investigation.
He said that to worsen the case, the defendant was never invited or be made to make statement so that truth can be unearthed if there are allegations against him.
The Chairman of the tribunal said “From the simple analysis of the evidence of the prosecution we find it difficult to accept the seriousness of the witnesses. All the evidence were so discredited, unreliable that no reasonable court will attach probate value to them. Since the essential ingredients of all the charges were not proved as required by law, this tribunal has no option to discharge and acquit the defendant in view of the manifestly unreliable evidence of the prosecution witnesses.
In his supporting ruling, the second member of the panel Williams Atedze Agwadza said that he was persuaded by the ultimate conclusion of the chairman of the tribunal on the no case submission.
He said a careful perusal of the four witnesses and 48 exhibits tendered by the prosecution showed grave defectiveness as no Prima facie case was established to sustain the charge.
“The formulation of the 18 count charge was based on the affidavit evidence of Mr Samuel Madojemu adding that his testimony and affidavit evidence later became an affliction and epidemic that befell the prosecution.
He said sections 37, 38 and 126 of the evidence act were violated with manifestly inadmissible exhibits and testimony.
He further said that the team referred to by Madojemu and which comprise of the operatives of the EFCC, DSS, and CCB is unknown to law as the team has no constitutional or statutory backing to do what they did making the charge against Saraki incurable defective and capable of causing miscarriage of justice. “Evidence to establish offence must be such that has probate value, adding that another fatal error on the part of the complanant Was The failure to obtain statement of the defendant
Besides, Agwadza said that prosecution also failed by its inability to call vital witnesses including the accountant general of Kwara State to establish that the alleged collection of salary by Saraki long after he left office as Governor of Kwara State.
“My humble conclusion is that the defendant in this case has no case to answer and is accordingly discharged and acquitted”.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government had in September 2015 slammed charges of false declaration of assets, operating foreign accounts and collecting salaries from Kwara State government years after he left office as Chief Executive of the State.

Author: News Editor

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