Citing Absence of a Prima Facie Case, Saraki Seeks Dismissal of CCT Trial

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Thursday pointedly told the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to dismiss the false asset declaration charges brought against him at the CCT by the federal government on the grounds that a prima facie case had not been established against him.

He told the tribunal that from the 18-count charge and the totality of evidence adduced by the government witnesses, he had not been linked in anyway to the allegations against him.

In his no-case submission argued by his counsel, Mr. Kanu Agabi (SAN), Saraki said the prosecution failed to establish the charges against him and as such there was no need for him to be ordered to enter a defence by the tribunal in respect of the charges.

He said the charges against him were predicated on petitions and that throughout the prosecution’s case, the reports of investigation on the petitions were never made available to the tribunal for verification.

Saraki’s counsel pleaded with the tribunal to painstakingly read all the petitions so as to be able to establish that the petitions had nothing to do with the Senate President.

Apart from the fact that the reports of the investigation on the petitions were not made available to the tribunal by the federal government, the counsel submitted that none of the petitioners was invited as a witness in the charges against the defendant.

Agabi informed the tribunal that he made a no-case submission for his client because the charges against him were founded on faceless petitions and pleaded with the tribunal to dismiss the charges so as to discourage writers of faceless petitions.

The senior lawyer also drew the attention of the tribunal to counts 1, 2, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 16, adding that in the counts Saraki was charged with false declaration of assets by making no declaration of assets.
Agabi insisted that the charges were full of anomalies and inconsistencies, adding that false declaration by refusal to declare was unknown to law.

He maintained that Saraki declared his assets as required by law and that no one can make a declaration that the statement of a public officer is false, unless such a person is authorised by law to do so.

Throughout the prosecution’s case against Saraki, Agabi a former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, said nobody was mentioned as having declared that the assets declared by Saraki in his asset declaration forms were false.

Agabi specifically referred the tribunal to the evidence of Mr. Samuel Madojemu, Head of the Investigation and Intelligence Unit of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), and his affidavit evidence, averring that throughout his testimony, he based his evidence on hearsay from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He noted that witnesses ought to be called upon to prove the case.

Agabi, therefore, urged the tribunal headed by Hon. Danladi Yakubu Umar to decide on the no-case submission on justice and not on sentiments from the prosecution.

However, in his opposition to the no-case submission, counsel to the federal government, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), insisted that a serious prima facie case had been established to warrant the defendant to be called upon by the tribunal to enter his defence in the charges against him.

He drew the attention of the tribunal to some asset forms of the defendant, adding that investigations had established false declaration of assets.

Jacobs told the tribunal that discharging the defendant on a no-case basis will defeat the fight against corruption and purpose of the CCT.

He maintained that the name of the defendant was mentioned in the petitions, and even without that, a person could still be prosecuted without any petition against him.

The prosecution counsel urged the tribunal not to form an opinion, evaluate evidence or make observations on the facts at this level, and urged the tribunal to hold that a prima facie case had been effectively established against the defendant.

The tribunal chairman, after taking arguments from both sides, announced that he would sit down with his colleague on the panel to decide on the no-case submission, and a date for ruling will be communicated to the lawyers when it is ready.