Saraki appears before CCT, pleads not guilty to graft charges
The Senate President Bukola Saraki on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to corruption charges at the country’s Code of Conduct tribunal, a day after an appeal court rejected his request to stop the trial.
Saraki, who leads the upper chamber of parliament and is the third-highest politician in Nigeria after the president and vice-president, has been accused of making a false declaration of assets.
“I want to say that I am not guilty,” Saraki said of the 13 counts of corruption levelled against him when he was governor of central Kwara state between 2003 and 2011.
Saraki’s lawyer said his client was being told of the charges for the first time and requested enough time to defend himself.
Tribunal judge Danladi Umar adjourned the trial to October 21, saying he would grant the accused bail.
The tribunal also quashed an earlier warrant for Saraki to be arrested for refusing to appear before it on two occasions — last Friday and Monday.
The case is seen as a litmus test for the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) of President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to power in May on an anti-graft ticket.
Buhari and his deputy Yemi Osinbajo this month publicly declared their assets and other public figures, including lawmakers, are expected to follow suit.