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UPDATED: CCT declares Saraki innocent of false asset declaration charges

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Wednesday cleared Bukola Saraki, President of the Senate, of the charges of false asset declaration brought against him.

According to Danladi Umar, Chairman of the tribunal, the prosecution did not sufficiently prove its case against the senate president.

The federal government, through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, had alleged that Saraki made the false assets declaration during his time as Governor of Kwara State.

He was also accused of operating a foreign account while still Kwara State Governor, contrary to the code of conduct for public servants in the country.

Saraki was docked for the first time before the CCT On September 22, 2015, on a 13-count charge that was later amended to 16 counts on April 28, 2016. In February the government further amended the charges against Saraki to 18.

One of the charges claimed that Saraki had stated in his assets declaration form that he acquired properties at Numbers 17a and 17b Mcdonald Road, Ikoyi, Lagos on September 16, 2006, from the proceeds of sale of rice and sugar commodities.

But investigations revealed that the said property were bought through a N507 million loan obtained from Guaranty Trust Bank.

On May 4, after calling four witnesses and presenting several documents that were admitted as exhibits, Rotimi Jacobs, counsel to the federal government, closed its case.

However, the defence team said it would file a no-case submission, adding that the prosecution was unable to establish a prima facie case against the accused person.

“Our submission is that the prosecution has not made out a case warranting an answer from the defendant,” said Kanu Agabi, the lead defence counsel.

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Pointing out the ‘flaws’ in the allegations raised by the prosecution, Agabi noted that “there is inconsistency in the charges”.

“I urge your lordship to hold that is not an offence,” he added.

Agabi also urged the court to take note of the defence’s list of witnesses, whom the prosecution ought to call but failed to.

At the resumption of trial on Wednesday, Umar upheld the no-case submission filed by the defence counsel.
He pointed out that the testimonies of the four prosecution witnesses were discredited, and as a result were unreliable.

The federal government had earlier withdrawn a forgery case brought against Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu, the deputy senate president, for allegedly illegally altering the Senate’s standing rules in order to unduly favour Saraki’s emergence as President of the Senate.

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