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CCT Trial: Saraki drags FG to Supreme Court

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Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has approached the Supreme Court to appeal against the December 12, 2017 judgment of the Court of Appeal which reversed his acquittal by the Code of Conduct Tribunal where he was prosecuted false assets declaration and other related charges.

Delivering a unanimous judgment in the appeal filed by the Federal Government against the Senate President’s earlier acquittal, the three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, headed by Justice Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson, restored three out of the 18 charges earlier dismissed by the CCT.

The Danladi Umar-led CCT had, in its ruling on the no-case submission filed by Saraki after the prosecution concluded its case, dismissed the 18 counts on grounds of lack of evidence.

 

The Federal Government had, through its lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), appealed against the CCT’s ruling, which the senior advocate described as unconstitutional in view of the weight of evidence presented.

Delivering judgment on the Federal Government’s appeal, the Court of Appeal ruled that Saraki, a former Governor of Kwara State, had a case to answer with respect to three of the counts numbered 4, 5 and 6.

Dissatisfied with the judgment of the court, Saraki, through his legal team, led by Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), filed a notice of appeal before the Supreme Court seeking an order setting aside the Court of Appeal’s judgment.

Our correspondent learnt that the Senate President’s notice of appeal, which comprised four grounds, was filed on December 27, 2017.

It was also learnt that the appellant had compiled the records of the Court of Appeal and had them transmitted to the Supreme Court for validation of his appeal.

A top member of Saraki’s legal team, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), on Monday, confirmed that they had filed the Senate President’s notice of appeal.

Usoro, however, said the team would file additional grounds of appeal before the end of the week.

 The senior advocate stated, “I can confirm that we have filed our notice of appeal. The notice of appeal has four grounds. But we are going to file another notice of appeal of additional three grounds before the end of the week. The law permits us to file additional grounds of appeal.”

 

Our correspondent also gathered that the notice of appeal, already filed, had been served on the Federal Government’s legal team.

Justice Akomolafe-Wilson had held in the Court of Appeal’s judgment that contrary to the CCT’s ruling, there was “ample” evidence, led by the prosecution, to warrant the Senate President to open his defence in respect of the three counts – Counts 4, 5 and 6.

She held that there was “direct evidence” from the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses supporting the three counts.

In Count 4,  which was restored by the Court of Appeal, Saraki was accused of making false assets declaration at the end of his tenure as Executive Governor of Kwara State in 2011 and on assumption of office as a Senator in 2011 in respect of a property at 17A McDonald, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The prosecution contended that the defendant falsely declared to have acquired the property at 17A McDonald, Ikoyi, Lagos on September 6, 2006 from the proceeds of sale of rice and sugar.

In Count 5, the prosecution accused Saraki of making false asset declaration at the end of his tenure as Executive Governor of Kwara State in 2011 and on assumption of office as a Senator in 2011 when he declared that he acquired No. 17B McDonald, Ikoyi, Lagos, on September 6, 2006 from proceeds of sale of rice and sugar.

In Count 6, the prosecution also accused Saraki of making a false declaration in his Assets Declaration Form at the end of his tenure as Governor of Kwara State in 2007 and on assumption of office as Executive Governor in 2007 by failing to declare his outstanding loan liabilities of N315,054,355.92 out of the loan of N380,000,000 obtained from the Guaranty Trust Bank Plc.

The two-man panel of the CCT, headed by Danladi Umar, had, on June 14, 2017 upheld the no-case submission filed by Saraki after the prosecution, led by Jacobs, closed its case with four witnesses and 48 documentary exhibits.

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