Tribunal fixes Oct 21 for hearing on Saraki’s case

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The Code of Conduct Tribunal CCT has adjourned to October 21 to 23 for the hearing of the case of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who is standing trial for alleged false declaration of assets.

Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar announced after the Senate president pleaded “not guilty” on Tuesday to multiple charges of fraud brought against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Saraki was thereafter granted bail on self recognition arrived the tribunal with about 50 members of the National Assembly including senators and member, House of Representatives, is facing a 13-count charge bordering on corruption and alleged false declaration of assets.

Some of his colleagues in court are Theodore Orji, Sam Egwu, Ike Ekweremadu, Shaba Lafiaji, Aliyu Wamakko, Rafiu Ibrahim, Tayo Alasoadura, Hamma Misau, Samuel Anyanwu, Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi, among others.

The president of the senate appeared after failing to appear on Friday and Monday compelling the tribunal to issue a bench warrant on him.

At the opening of the case, Saraki’s counsel argued that the matter was not a criminal case, and challenged the jurisdiction of the tribunal.

The argument was opposed by the prosecution on which tribunal ruled that the matter was criminal. “I hold that the trial before the tribunal is purely criminal,” said the chairman of the tribunal.

On jurisdiction, the prosecution counsel supported his argument with section 2 of the Administration of Justice Act, 2015, that says the matter could be heard alongside any preliminary objection regarding the tribunal’s jurisdiction.

The section is part of a new law signed by former President Goodluck Jonathan in March forming part of a major reform of Nigeria’s criminal justice system to speed up corruption cases before the courts, by dealing with issues of preliminary objections, adjournments, and jurisdiction.

The law says such objections must be addressed by the courts concurrently with the corruption charge, unlike the past when interlocutory injunctions could go to the Supreme Court and return, before the main trial begins.

Saraki who pleaded not guilty to the charges said, “I believe that I am here as the Senate president to indicate my respect for the tribunal. I am puzzled why I am being compelled”.

The senate president defended the various assets which the Code of Conduct Bureau said his earnings did not qualify him to acquire, saying he got them through his investment in rice farming.

He also pleaded not guilty to the charge of failing to declare his assets when he was Kwara State governor and also denied making false declaration of assets.

Saraki also pleaded not guilty to the charge on allegation of using foreign bank accounts while serving as a public officer in Nigeria.

 Saraki on Monday said he would attend the trial after he failed to use the courts to halt the trial.

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