ABUJA Division of the Court of Appeal,
yesterday, reserved judgment on an
appeal that the federal government filed
to challenge the dismissal of the 18-count
criminal charges it preferred against
the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki,
before the Code of Conduct Tribunal,
CCT.
A three-man panel of justices of the
appellate court led by Justice Tinuade
Akomolafe-Wilson adjourned to decide
whether or not the case against Saraki
should be re-opened.
The federal government had in its
11-grounds of appeal, prayed the
appellate court to set-aside the CCT’s
verdict that acquitted Saraki of all the
charges it slammed against him.
It wants the court to direct Saraki to
enter his defence to the 18-count charge.
Nigerian Pilot recalls that Justice
Danladi Umar-led two-man CCT panel
had on June 14, terminated further
hearing on charges against Saraki on
the premise that the federal government
failed to by way of credible evidence,
substantiate any of its allegations against
the defendant.
However, in its notice of appeal, the
federal government faulted all the
grounds on which the CCT predicated
Saraki’s acquittal.
According to the federal government,
“The judgment of the lower tribunal is
unwarranted, unreasonable and against
the weight of evidence”.
It maintained that the CCT erred
in law by upholding Saraki’s no-case
submission ‘when the onus of proof’ is on
the Senate president to show that there is
no infraction in the code of conduct forms
that he tendered at various times before
the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB.
According to the federal government,
“By the provisions of paragraphs 11 (2),
(3) and (13) of Part 1, 5th Schedule of
the Constitution of the Federal Republic
of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), once the
code of conduct form filled by a public
officer is investigated and found to be
false or that some assets are beyond the
legitimate income of the public officer or
that the assets were acquired by means
of corrupt practices, the public officer
concerned is deemed to have breached
the code of conduct and it is for him to
show to the tribunal that there is no
infraction in the form.
“The honourable tribunal wrongly
placed the onus of proof on the
prosecution contrary to paragraphs 11
(2), (3) and (13) of Part 1, 5th Schedule to
the Constitution of the Federal Republic
of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
“The Constitution of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended)
clearly excluded the presumption of
innocence on the allegation of infraction
FG to raise $5.5bn to part-finance deficit in 2017 budget, others
of the code of conduct by public officers
and the tribunal wrongly applied the
presumption of innocence contrary to the
constitutional requirement.
“The tribunal’s decision is
unconstitutional and without
jurisdiction.”
Consequently, the federal government,
through its lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs,
SAN, prayed the Court of Appeal for “An
order setting aside the ruling of the Code
of Conduct Tribunal delivered on June 14
upholding the no-case submission raised
by the respondent (Saraki) at the close of
the prosecution’s case, as well as an order
calling upon the respondent to enter his
defence.”
It told the appellate court that the
CCT failed to analyse and evaluate the
evidence of prosecution witnesses before
reaching the conclusion that there was no
case made against Saraki.
Meanwhile, the Justice Akomolafe-
Wilson-led panel of the appellate court
reserved the case for judgment after
the parties adopted their final briefs of
argument.
Saraki, had through his team of lawyers
led by a former Attorney-General of the
Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice,
Mr. Kanu Agabi, SAN, urged the court to
dismiss the federal government’s appeal
against him for want of merit.
He maintained that the federal
government failed to discharge the
burden of proof that was placed on it
by law, adding that the prosecution was
unable to establish a prima-facie case that
would have warranted the CCT to compel
him to enter his defence to the charge.
Specifically, Saraki was in the charge
marked ABT/01/15 and dated September
11, 2015, alleged to have falsely declared
his assets contrary to the constitutional
requirement.
He was accused of deliberately
manipulating the assets declaration form
that he filed prior to his assumption of
office as the Senate president by making
anticipatory declaration of assets, as well
as operating foreign bank accounts while
in office as a public servant.
The offence was said to have been
committed while Saraki held sway as
governor.
He was also accused of breaching
Section 2 of the CCB and Tribunal Act, an
offence punishable under Section 23(2) of
the Act and paragraph 9 of the said Fifth
Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, as
amended.
The federal government, among other
offences, alleged that Saraki claimed that
he owned and acquired No 15A and 15B
Mc Donald, Ikoyi, Lagos, through his
company, Carlisle Properties Limited in
2000, when the said property was actually
sold by the Implementation Committee
of the Federal Government landed
properties in 2006 to his companies, Tiny
Tee Limited and Vitti Oil Limited for the
aggregate sum of N396, 150, 000, 00.
He was alleged to have made false
declaration on or about June 3, 2011,
by refusing to declare plot 2A Glover
Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, which he acquired
between 2007 and 2008 through his
company from the Central Bank of
Nigeria for a total sum of N325, 000,
000, 00.
Similarly, Saraki was said to have
refused to declare No1 Tagnus street,
Maitama, Abuja, which he claimed to
have acquired in November 1996 from
one David Baba Akawu.
Some of his alleged offences while in
office as governor, which are said to be
punishable under Section 15(1) and (2)
of the CCB and Tribunal Act, Cap C15,
Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004,
were allegedly committed between
October, 2006 and May, 2007.
His actions were classified as a gross
violation of the Fifth Schedule of the
Constitution of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria 1999, as amended.

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