Corruption Trial: Saraki Loses At Appeal Court
THE Court of Appeal in Abuja yesterday threw out an appeal brought before it by the embattled Senate President, Bukola Saraki. Senator Saraki had approached the appellate court asking it to stop his corruption trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal claiming that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to proceed to try him for falsely declaring his assets as required by law.
Delivering their judgment yesterday, the three justices of the Court of Appeal in a split decision ruled that the Code of Conduct Tribunal has jurisdiction to try Saraki for falsely declaring his assets. Justice Moore Adumein and Justice A Mustapha ruled to quash the appeal while Justice E Ekanem disagreed with the lead judgment.
With the judgment, it seems Saraki’s trial will commence at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) as planned. This is even as Saraki’s lawyers have said that they will proceed to the Supreme Court to challenge the Appeal Court’s ruling.
It would be recalled that since his controversial emergence as president of the 8th Senate, Saraki has been in the eye of the storm.
The Code of Conduct Bureau had slammed a 13-count charge of corruption on Mr. Saraki. In charge number ABT/01/15, dated September 11 and filed before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Saraki is accused of offences ranging from anticipatory declaration of assets, to making false declaration of assets in forms he filed before the Code of Conduct Bureau while he was governor of Kwara State.
According to the charges, the Senate President was also accused of failing to declare some assets he acquired while in office as governor. Among other offences, including allegedly acquiring assets beyond his legitimate earnings, Saraki is also accused of operating foreign accounts while being a public officer: governor and senator.
The offences, the charge said, violated sections of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended. Saraki is also said to have breached Section 2 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act which is punishable under paragraph 9 of the said Fifth Schedule of the Constitution.
The charges were prepared by M.S. Hassan, a deputy director in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation. Saraki has since dismissed the charges as “false and frivolous”.
The Court of Appeal had before now struck out an application filed by Saraki to stop his trial. Saraki had approached the court to compel the tribunal to stay action on an arrest order issued against him.