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  • CCT trial: Saraki’s Gain, FG’s Pain
  • AFTER two years of legal tussle, the Senate
    President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on June 14,
    persuaded the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT,
    sitting in Abuja, to terminate further hearing on
    the 18-count amended charge the Federal
    Government preferred against him. Saraki was
    docked before the CCT on September 22, 2015,
    on a 13-count charge and latter re-arraigned on
    April 28, 2016, on an amended 16-count
    corruption charge.
    FG subsequently added two more counts to
    charges against him. Specifically, Saraki was in
    the charge marked ABT/01/15 and dated
    September 11, 2015, alleged to have falsely
    declared his assets, contrary to the
    constitutionally requirement. He was accused of
    deliberately manipulating the assets declaration
    form that he filed prior to his assumption of
    office as the Senate President, by making
    anticipatory declaration of assets, as well as,
    operated foreign bank account while in office as
    a public servant.
    The offence was said to have been committed
    while Saraki held sway as a governor. He was
    also accused of breaching section 2 of the CCB
    and Tribunal Act, an offence punishable under
    section 23(2) of the Act and paragraph 9 of the
    said Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, as
    amended.
    FG, among other offences, alleged that Saraki,
    claimed that he owned and acquired No 15A and
    15B McDonald, Ikoyi, Lagos, through his
    company, Carlisle Properties Limited in 2000,
    when the said property was actually sold by the
    Implementation Committee of the Federal
    Government landed properties in 2006 to his
    companies, Tiny Tee Limited and Vitti Oil
    Limited for the aggregate sum of N396, 150,
    000, 00.
    He was alleged to have made false declaration
    on or about June 3, 2011, by refusing to declare
    plot 2A Glover Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, which he
    acquired between 2007 and 2008 through his
    company from the Central Bank of Nigeria for a
    total sum of N325, 000, 000. Similarly, Saraki
    was said to have refused to declare No1 Tagnus
    street, Maitama, Abuja, which he claimed to
    have acquired in November 1996 from one David
    Baba Akawu.
    Some of his alleged offence while in office as
    governor, which are said to be punishable under
    section 15(1) and (2) of the CCB and Tribunal
    Act, Cap C15, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria,
    2004, were allegedly committed between
    October 2006 and May 2007. His actions were
    classified as a gross violation of the Fifth
    Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal
    Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended.
    Nevertheless, in a unanimous decision, the two-
    man-panel tribunal headed by Justice Danladi
    Umar, held that FG failed to prove essential
    elements of all the allegations it levelled against
    Saraki. The tribunal held that oral and
    documentary evidence that FG adduced before
    it, were “so much discredited during cross-
    examination”, saying the proof of evidence was
    so”manifestly unreliable that no court or tribunal
    can rely on it to make any conviction”.
    The panel maintained that all the evidence FG
    tendered against the defendant lacked probative
    value and were primarily hearsay in nature. The
    tribunal noted that four witnesses FG brought to
    testify against the defendant, gave contradictory
    evidence.
    Specifically, the tribunal Chairman, Justice Umar
    who gave the lead ruling, stressed that whereas
    the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, is the
    institution constitutionally empowered to
    prosecute allegations against Saraki, it observed
    that FG however placed much reliance on a
    report from the Economic and Financial Crimes
    Commission, EFCC, which it said was more of
    intelligence gathering than proper investigation.
    Justice Umar said the evidence of third witness,
    PW-3, Mr. Samuel Madujemu, who is the Head
    of Investigation and Intelligence Department at
    the CCB, did not help the case of the
    prosecution. He observed that Madujemu
    admitted that contrary to provisions of the law,
    Saraki was not at any time invited by the CCB to
    make clarifications on discrepancies that were
    allegedly found in his assets declaration forms.
    Justice Umar said that Madujemu had in his
    testimony also admitted that averrments he
    made in an affidavit he deposed in support of
    the charge against Saraki, were based on
    information supplied to him by his undisclosed
    team of investigators. “From the simple analysis
    of the evidence of the prosecution, we find it
    difficult to accept the seriousness of the
    witnesses. All the evidence were so discredited,
    unreliable that no reasonable court will attach
    probative value to them.
    “In the light of the foregoing, and since essential
    ingredients of all the charges were not proved
    as required by law, this tribunal has no other
    option than to discharge the defendant. “The
    Honourable tribunal upholds the no-case
    submission and the defendant is accordingly
    discharged and acquitted”, Justice Umar held.
    While concurring with the lead ruling, the
    second member of the panel, Mr. Williams
    AtedzeAgwadza, held that FG failed to establish
    a prima-facie case capable of warranting the
    tribunal to compel Saraki to enter his defence to
    the charge against him. Mr. Agwadza noted that
    the joint investigative team that probed Saraki’s
    assets, which comprised of operatives of the
    EFCC, the CCB and Federal Ministry of Justice
    was unknown to law as the team had no
    constitutional or statutory backing, adding that
    the entire charge was anchored on report of the
    said team.
    “Evidence to establish offence must be such that
    has probative value. Another fatal error on the
    part of the complainant was the failure to obtain
    statement of the defendant”. Besides, Agwadza
    said that the prosecution failed to call vital
    witnesses, including the Accountant General of
    Kwara state to establish the allegation that
    Saraki received governorship salary while he
    was already a member of the National
    Assembly.
    “My humble conclusion is that the defendant in
    this case has no case to answer and is
    accordingly discharged and acquitted. The
    Federal Government failed to link the defendant
    with the commission of offences as charged.
    Here say evidence is not admissible for purpose
    of establishing criminal liability.

    Governorship salary
    “Another fatal error is that prosecution did not
    get evidence of the defendant to show fairness.
    It will be fundamentally erroneous for the
    tribunal to call on the defendant to prove his
    innocence to the charge”, Agwadza added.
    More so, the tribunal noted that a former head
    of fund transfer unit at Guarantee Trust Bank,
    GTB, Mr. NwachukwuAmazu, who was brought
    to establish how Saraki allegedly laundered
    funds to offshore accounts, admitted that most
    of the evidence were consumed by fire. It will be
    recalled that FG had on May 5, closed its case
    against Saraki after it called a total of four
    witnesses and tendered 48 exhibits in support of
    the amended 18-count charge.
    Thereafter, Saraki, through his consortium of
    lawyers led by a former Attorney General of the
    Federation, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, entered a
    no-case-submission, insisting that FG failed to
    establish a prima-facie case against him.
    Meantime, dissatisfied with Saraki’s acquittal,
    FG, quickly lodged an appeal to challenge the
    CCT’s verdict.
    FG, through its private prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi
    Jacobs, SAN, raised 11 grounds of appeal
    wherein it faulted all the grounds on which the
    CCT predicated Saraki’s acquittal. According to
    FG, “The judgment of the lower tribunal is
    unwarranted, unreasonable and against the
    weight of evidence”. FG maintained that the CCT
    erred in law by upholding Saraki’s no-case
    submission “when the onus of proof” was on the
    Senate President to show that there was no
    infraction in the Code of Conduct Forms.
    “By the provisions of paragraphs 11 (2), (3) and
    (13) of Part 1, 5th Schedule to the Constitution
    of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as
    amended), once the Code of Conduct form filled
    by the public officer is investigated and found to
    be false or that some assets are beyond the
    legitimate income of the public officer or that the
    assets were acquired by means of corrupt
    practices, the public officer concerned is
    deemed to have breached the Code of Conduct
    and it is for him to show to the tribunal that
    there is no infraction in the form.”
    “The honourable tribunal wrongly placed the
    onus of proof on the prosecution contrary to
    paragraphs 11 (2), (3) and (13) of Part 1, 5th
    Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal
    Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
    “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of
    Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) clearly excluded the
    presumption of innocence on the allegation of
    infraction of the Code of Conduct by public
    officers and the Tribunal wrongly applied the
    presumption of innocence contrary to the
    constitutional requirement.
    “The tribunal’s decision is unconstitutional and
    without jurisdiction.”
    Consequently, FG prayed the Court of Appeal in
    Abuja for; “An order setting aside the ruling of
    the Code of Conduct Tribunal delivered on June
    14, 2017 upholding the no-case submission
    raised by the respondent (Saraki) at the close of
    the prosecution’s case.
    As well as, “an order calling upon the
    respondent to enter his defence.”
    It told the appellate court that the CCT failed to
    analyse and evaluate the evidence of
    prosecution witnesses before reaching the
    conclusion that there was no case made against
    Saraki.
    However, Saraki had since dismissed the appeal
    as a joke, boasting that he will still defeat FG at
    the appellate court.
    Though no date has been fixed for
    commencement of hearing on the appeal,
    Nigerians are however following the case with
    keen interest to see how the entire legal drama
    will end, probably at the Supreme Court.

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