Senate president, Bukola Saraki
Senate president, Bukola Saraki

A prosecution witness, Micheal Wetkas, a detective from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),‎ has revealed that the trial of the Senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki, by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) did not emanate from any petition against the Senate president.

Saraki is being tried before the tribunal by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) over alleged false assets declaration.

During the proceedings of the tribunal yesterday, Mr Wetkas, under cross examination by Saraki’s lead counsel, Kanu Agabi (SAN), told the Tribunal that he filed the charge against the Senate president on September 14, 2015, while the witness’ report, which forms part of proof of evidence, was filed on October 30, 2015.

According to him, it was the prosecutor who told him to file a summary report of his findings and activities during investigation. He said he did not mention any petition from Kwara Freedom Network, nor did he investigate the petition from the network by EFCC, adding that his own team’s investigation was based on intelligence report.

The witness also told the Tribunal that he did not investigate the pension scheme of Kwara State; neither did he have knowledge of the entitlements of the defendant.

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The witness had, last week, told the Tribunal that Saraki was receiving monthly salaries from the Kwara State government for four years after the expiration of his tenure as governor of the state.

He also told the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) that the Senate president failed to declare his property located at No. 1 and No. 3 Targus Street, Maitama, Abuja, in the assets declaration he made in 2007 and 2011.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Mr. Umar Danladi, has ordered day-to-day trial of the Senate president.

During its sitting yesterday, the Tribunal admitted 17 more exhibits as proof that Saraki owned the properties in question.

Among the documents tendered through the witness by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), include a GTB Plc bank draft in the sums N256.3 million, N12.8 million and another N24 million as part payment for property on No. 17 Mcdonald Street, Ikoyi, Lagos, by the defendant.

CJN Decries Delay In Trial Of Corruption Cases

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Muhammed yesterday said that the delay in trials of cases in court has remained a major challenge confronting the nation’s judiciary.

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The CJN, however, advocated the finding of a lasting solution that will improve the administration of criminal justice system, reduce delays, restore public confidence as well as improve judicial performance.

While declaring open the 2016 refresher course organised for Magistrates on current trends in Law and Administration of Justice by the National Judicial Institute (NJI) in Abuja, the CJN said, “More often than not, trial delays are caused by the antics of parties and, to some extent, the court, which result in unnecessary adjournments.

“Often, prosecutors or defence counsel are unable to present their cases, or witnesses and Investigating police officers are often unavailable or transferred. There is sometimes a lack of diligent rendering of legal advice on whether there is a prima facie case to prosecute, an increased use of preliminary objections, unnecessary legal devices for delaying trials and a myriad of others too numerous to mention here.”

He also stressed the need to reduce the backlog of cases, especially in criminal matters, which he said had contributed to the congestion of prisons, even as he expressed optimism that the course will provide an avenue to devise ways of achieving this.

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“I find it distressing that many criminal trials are not given the attention that they deserve. I urge you to accord criminal matters priority as had been the legal tradition and not to unduly delay proceedings

“For emphasis, I wish to draw your attention to S 35(4) and 36(4) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic if Nigeria (as amended), which have the combined effect of underlining the need to expeditiously try criminal matters in view of the various fundamental rights that an accused is deprived of, especially when in custody or detention.

“On our part, the Nigerian Judiciary will continue to actively pursue lasting structural and ethical reforms that will better position it to meet the aspirations of the average court user for a speedy, affordable and transparent system of administration of justice”.

Earlier in her welcome address, the administrator, National Judicial Institute, Justice Roseline Bozimo (rtd) stressed the importance of law reforms and said the refresher course was aimed at ensuring that the relationship between the bar and bench is maintained, access to justice enhanced and the productivity of judicial officers improved.

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