Tribunal Grants Saraki Bail On Self-recognition | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Tribunal Grants Saraki Bail On Self-recognition

Posted: Sep 23, 2015 at 12:45 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

More Drama At Trial

Don’t Be Used For Personal Vendetta, Saraki Tells Tribunal Chairman

We Remain Unshaken – Senate

By Tony Ezimakor and David Odama (Abuja)

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) sitting in Abuja was filled with drama yesterday at the resumed trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki for alleged perjury and false declaration of assets.

The frenzy that the embattled Senate President might be committed to jail under strict bail conditions, having caused the tribunal chairman, Justice Danladi Umar, to issue warrant of arrest on him in two previous sittings, calmed down afterwards, even after initial objection for him to take the pleas for the charges against him had been rejected by the tribunal.

Saraki walked away from the tribunal on self-recognition.

The embattled Senate president had pleaded not guilty to all the 13-count charge bothering on perjury and false declaration of assets while he served as governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011 which the Federal Government leveled against him.

Saraki caused a stir while in the dock as he faulted the mode of his trial. He said that his trial was orchestrated simply because he was President of Nigeria’s Senate.

“I am one of the strongest believers in the rule of law. I am a law-abiding citizen and my faith in the judiciary remains unshaken but when trial is being instigated outside the purview of normal procedure then the tribunal must watch it and must be on the side of justice,” Saraki said.

Saraki had been in the eye of the storm since his decision to run for the post of Senate President and seized the leadership of the federal parliament against the choice of the leadership of his party, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari.

It is widely known that Saraki had known no peace, just as the running of the affairs of the National Assembly had been less than normal since his emergence in the controversial election that threw him up as head of the parliament.

In his address to the tribunal, Saraki said he had delayed his appearance to test the cases in court, adding that the Schedule 3 (d) of the Code of Conduct Bureau requires that perceived breaches in Asset declaration must be disclosed to the person before proceeding to the tribunal, but expressed shock that the bureau and tribunal ignored their own regulation.

He had earlier filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja, challenging his trial at the conduct tribunal citing certain procedural infractions in the manner the charges were brought up against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau, which originated the material facts of the allegations against him and the Federal Ministry of Justice that filed the charges before the conduct tribunal.

He filed a second suit at the Court of Appeal seeking to quash the arrest warrant earlier issued against him by the conduct tribunal.

Saraki told Justice Umar that the prosecution had ignored fundamental procedure in the trial, urging him to do the right thing in the interest of justice and not allow the tribunal to serve the interest of forces that are bent on vendetta.

When the matter came up on Monday, Umar had restated earlier orders for the security agencies to produce Saraki before the tribunal unfailingly on Tuesday.

But the warrant appeared no longer necessary yesterday as Saraki, boosted by 50 of the 108 senators, arrived the tribunal for the hearing that began at 10 a.m.

Justice Umar, in pronouncing the bail noted submissions by both defence and prosecution counsel that the defendant voluntarily appeared before the tribunal.

He also vacated earlier orders of the tribunal directing the security agencies to arrest Saraki.


Earlier in the trial, Counsel to Saraki, Joseph Daudu (SAN), had objected to Saraki being docked, arguing that the defence had satisfied the orders of the tribunal by producing the defendant before the tribunal. Having done that, he argued that the tribunal should proceed with earlier application made by the defence regarding the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the substantive matter.

But Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Counsel to the Federal Government, reminded the tribunal that it had already ruled on the issue of jurisdiction and therefore could not return to it. He maintained that what was required in criminal administration of justice is for the accused person to mount the dock and take his plea.

Ruling on the arguments, the tribunal chairman held that the trial was criminal in nature, and ordered the Senate president into the dock.

Thereafter, the prosecution counsel told the tribunal how the accused person, while in office as the executive governor of Kwara State filed four different assets declaration forms; the first one in 2003, two in 2007 while the fourth was filled in 2011 when he left office as a governor.

He further alleged that the senate president made anticipatory assets declaration while in some cases, failed to declare others assets he acquired while he served as governor of the state.

Jacobs claimed that Saraki operated two foreign accounts in the United Kingdom also while in the office as governor and made some huge deposits in foreign currencies into the accounts with the aid of the Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB), among other claims.

He said the prosecution would present five witnesses in the course of the trial and tender the assets declaration forms filed by Saraki to prove their case.

Justice Umar adjourned the case to October 21-23, 2015, when the tribunal would hear application on jurisdiction made by the defence.

Senate Unshaken

Thirty of the senators including members of the House of Representatives who stormed the conduct tribunal yesterday have expressed solidarity with the embattled Senate president, saying that the National Assembly remained solidly behind him.

The federal parliamentarians later issued a statement signed by Senator Ibrahim Abdullahi Danbaba (APC Sokoto South), declaring their total support and unalloyed loyalty to Saraki as President and that 8th Senate remained unshaken.

They said no amount of political persecutions or stage-managed trials against Saraki, will make them remove him as the Senate President.

The statement entitled: “Senate is Solidly Behind Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki,” reads, “After majority of us, Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, witnessed the appearance of our President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal this morning, we are happy that he appeared at the Tribunal after availing himself of the opportunity to defend his Fundamental Human Rights.

“We also want to state here, on behalf of our colleagues, that the Senate remains solidly behind Senator Saraki and we express our unalloyed support for his leadership. We reiterate the fact that he is our choice for the post of Senate President and no politically motivated, mischievous and vindictive trial will change our opinion of him.

“By his appearance at the tribunal, he has demonstrated his firm belief in the rule of law and his respect for our judicial process. We join Dr. Saraki in affirming our commitment to rule of law, constitutionalism and democracy.

“We only hope the other arms of government will ensure that due processes and procedures are followed in this trial and on all other issues.

“The Eighth Senate restates its commitment to the programmes and policies of the Buhari administration.

“It is our belief that at the end of this trial, our democracy, Nigerians and the people will end up as the beneficiaries.

Saraki had after being docked at the Tribunal on the ruling of its chairman, Danladi Umar, pleaded not guilty to all the 13 count charges slammed on him, but made a remark that drew large ovation from all his sympathisers.

He said: “I’m a true believer of the Rule of Law and I have come here with great respect. I have come here to subject myself. I strongly believe that I am here because I am the Senate President.

“I observe and make reference to some of the good works the Senate has done in the administration. The same Senate was the one that passed the Code of Conduct Bureau Act, 2001 that clearly states in Section 3 (d) that if there is a breach of the asset declaration, the Code of Conduct Bureau shall require a matter to the tribunal after giving the person an opportunity to either confirm whether those facts are true. And if he admits, the matter shall not be referred to the tribunal.

“I just want to say that I will now go ahead because I want to explain why I am puzzled why I should appear before the tribunal. I thought that the Code of Conduct should have sent me the charges first according to the law because we are determined to hear about the new Nigeria.

“Mr. Chairman, this is the first time and we are all watching and this is before the world, not before Nigeria. I will confine myself to due process and before now, those issues need to be raised”