Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki

The Court of Appeal in Abuja will today (Tuesday) hear the appeal filed by the Federal Government to challenge the acquittal of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, by the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The Federal Government on June 22, 2017 filed an 11-ground notice of appeal against the June 14, 2017 judgment of the CCT acquitting Saraki of the 18 charges of false asset declaration and other related offenses preferred against him in September 2015.

Our correspondent learnt on Monday that the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal had served the hearing notice for the Tuesday’s proceedings on the parties to the appeal on Friday.

It was learned that the Federal Government and the respondent had both filed their briefs.

“With that, the appeal is ready for hearing,” a source said.

The two-man panel of the CCT in its unanimous judgment upheld Saraki’s no-case submission and exonerated him of all the 18 amended charges.

The judgment of the CCT was anchored on the grounds that the prosecution, after calling four witnesses and tendering 48 documentary exhibits, was unable to establish any prima facie case against the Senate President.

Umar, in his lead ruling, exonerated Saraki of all the charges on, among other grounds, that failure of the prosecution to obtain Saraki’s statement and make it part of the proof of evidence was fatal to the case.

He described as “absurd” that neither Saraki’s statement nor the report of investigation said to have been carried out was produced before the tribunal

He agreed with the defense team led by Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), that the prosecution’s evidence had been manifestly discredited during cross-examination by the defence.

He added that the evidence adduced by the prosecution led by Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), was “so unreliable that no reasonable tribunal could convict” based on it.

The tribunal chairman specifically noted that the third prosecution witness, Mr. Samuel Madojemu, who is Head, Intelligence Unit of the CCB, only gave hearsay evidence on the information the witness purportedly received from the EFCC.

But the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, through its private prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), on June 20, 2017, filed 11 grounds notice of appeal against the CCT’s judgment.

It faulted all the grounds on which the CCT predicated Saraki’s acquittal, describing the entire judgment as unreasonable and unconstitutional.

The appellant stated that the judgment “effectively” overruled previous decisions of the Court of Appeal delivered with respect to Saraki’s trial and other criminal cases.

The appellant stated among others in its grounds one, that the CCT “failed to analyze and evaluate the evidence of prosecution witnesses” before reaching the conclusion that there was no case made out against Saraki.

It stated, among others, that the tribunal failed to point out the evidence of prosecution witnesses discredited by the defense.

According to the appellant, the tribunal also failed to apply the provisions of sections 302 and 303 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.

“The judgment of the lower tribunal is unwarranted, unreasonable and against the weight of evidence,” the notice of appeal read in part.

Describing the judgment as “unconstitutional and without jurisdiction,” the appellant stated 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.

It stated in part, “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 was no infraction in the form.

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