Senate President, Dr Abubakar Olubukola Saraki, yesterday told the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, prosecuting him over alleged falsification of assets declaration that he is now fully ready for trial, to prove his innocence.
Speaking through his lead attorney – a former Minister of Justice, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, Saraki said although he would have wished the due process of law to be followed by government before putting him on trial, he is ready to engage his accuser in law at the tribunal, to clear his name.
Saraki’s position followed the ruling yesterday by the Tribunal that it has jurisdiction to try the charges against the Senate President
“We are the ones being suspected of wrong doing and we are ready to establish the fact that we are innocent of the charges; even though we are convinced that the right thing has not been done as far as the charge is concerned,” Agabi said.
The Senate President had challenged the competence of the false assets declaration criminal charge brought against him by the federal government, insisting that the charges were politically motivated and in bad faith.
In his objection filed by Agabi, SAN, Saraki said that the charges cannot be sustained in law since due process of law was not observed before it was initiated.
The Senate President also asked the Tribunal to discharge him from the charges on the ground that they were not competent and lawful in the eyes of the law.
His grounds of objection to the trial were among others, that the tribunal headed by Mr. Danladi Yakubu Umar has no jurisdiction to entertain the charges because a condition precedent to the exercise of jurisdiction has not been fulfilled.
Besides, he also anchored his objection on the fact that the charges were brought in bad faith, and not in the interest of the public, and that the charges constituted gross abuse of legal process.
The charges, having been allegedly brought in violation of due process and in violation of his right to fair hearing, Saraki said cannot lie at the instance of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
But the Tribunal ruled that it has jurisdiction to prosecute the charges brought against him by the federal government.
The Tribunal while ruling in the preliminary objections to his trial dismissed the application challenging the legality of the charges against him.
Yukubu Umar said that the failure of the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, to meet certain conditions before putting Saraki on trial was not weighty enough to discharge him and strike out the trial.
The tribunal chairman said that by virtue of section 3(e) of the 1999 constitution, which did not make provision for the condition precedent as in the case of CCB Act, is unconstitutional, null and void, having been inconsistent with the constitution.
Meanwhile, the trial has been fixed for April 5, 2016 for the federal government to call its first principal witness.