Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, on Thursday reserved its judgement in the appeal filed by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, challenging his trial on charges relating to asset declaration breaches before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The Senate President is being prosecuted by the Federal Government on 16 counts including false asset declaration which he allegedly committed as governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.
The Justice Abdul Aboki-led panel of the Court of Appeal reserved its judgment after parties to the appeal adopted their briefs on Thursday.
Justice Aboki said the date to deliver the court’s judgment would later be communicated to the lawyers to the parties.
Saraki, represented by his lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), had on April 4, 2016 filed a nine-ground notice of appeal against a March 24, 2016 ruling of the CCT upholding its jurisdiction to entertain the charges preferred against the Senate President.
Part of the grounds of Saraki’s appeal was that the CCT was wrong not to have dismissed the charges because he was not invited by the Code of Conduct Bureau to clarify the alleged breaches in his asset declaration forms before filing charges against him.
At the hearing of the appeal on Thursday, Agabi told the court that the CCB did not obtain the statement filed along with the charges.
“If you bring an accused to court without his statement, it can do damage to his case,” he said.
The respondent’s (Federal Government’s) lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), asked the court to dismiss the appeal.
He said, “I urge this court to hold that this appeal lacks merit and should be dismissed. Once the CCB finds an infraction in an asset declaration form, the onus is on the defendant to prove his innocence before the tribunal.”
Saraki’s earlier appeal aimed at ending his trial on similar grounds that the CCT lacked jurisdiction was dismissed by the Supreme Court in its judgment delivered on February 5, 2016, ordering him to submit himself for trial.
Jacobs had cross-appealed the tribunal’s ruling, arguing that the CCT failed to make findings on its argument that Saraki’s motion, though was dismissed, constituted an abuse of court process.
Arguing on Thursday, Jacobs submitted among others, that the issue of jurisdiction, having been resolved by the Supreme Court in an earlier appeal by Saraki, it constituted an abuse of court process to raise it again.
He argued that the apex court, having held in a judgment of February 5, 2016 that the CCT had jurisdiction to try Saraki, it (CCT) ought not to entertain another motion filed by Saraki challenging its jurisdiction.
The Danladi Umar-led tribunal had in its ruling on March 24, 2016 resolved all the issues raised by the Senate President against him and affirmed that it had jurisdiction to hear the case.
Umar, who read the ruling, directed that the prosecution to open its case, ruling that contrary to Saraki’s contention, the Attorney General of the Federation was competent to institute charges before the CCT.
The tribunal also ruled that Saraki’s contention that he was being wrongfully prosecuted for offences allegedly committed about 13 years ago was out of place.
It also held that the Saraki’s reliance on its (CCT’s) earlier ruling dismissing the charges against a former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, was wrong.
Umar held that the tribunal had since realised that the ruling discharging Tinubu on the basis that he (Tinubu) was being prosecuted without first confronting him with the alleged breaches in his asset forms, was made in error.
Meanwhile, the CCT had on Wednesday adjourned the continuation of Saraki’s trial till November 7 and 8.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.
The post A’Court reserves judgment in Saraki’s case against CCT trial appeared first on Punch Newspapers.