Tribunal Adjourns Saraki’s Asset Declaration Trial to March 8

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) On Tuesday adjourned the trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki over allegations of false declaration of his assets as Governor of Kwara State till March 8, 2018.
At yesterday’s proceedings, parties in the suits were supposed to adopt their final address in the trial.

However, the Chairman of the tribunal, Danladi Umar, adjourned to March 8, following claims by the defence lead counsel, Kanu Agabi (SAN), that he was served with the final brief of argument by the prosecution on February 26 after work.

Agabi, who led a team of other senior lawyers for the Senate president, pleaded with the tribunal to adjourn the matter to a new date to enable him study and respond to the brief of argument served on him late by the prosecution.

The prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), admitted that his brief was served late, but blamed the defence for the lateness on the grounds that their own brief of argument was served on him after seven days ordered by the tribunal.

Jacobs told the tribunal that because the defence filed their brief of argument out of time, the settlement of his own brief was affected.
Having listened to both sides, the tribunal chairman subsequently adjourned the matter to March 8 for adoption of final written address.

Umar also said after the formal adoption of the written address, the tribunal would take a date for final judgment in the trial which commenced since 2015 when Saraki emerged as Senate president.
Saraki is being prosecuted by the federal government over allegations of false asset declaration when he was a governor.
The senate president had on February 6 closed his defence after calling one witness, Dr. Ademola Adebo, from the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) who testified in his favour.

Although Saraki, through his counsel, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), had at the commencement of proceedings on that day, told the tribunal that he has lined up four witnesses to testify in his favour, he however made a U-turn when the legal team decided to limit themselves to the first witness.
Shortly after the lone defence witness was cross examined by the prosecution lawyer, Jacobs, the tribunal Chairman, Umar, had asked parties for direction in the further proceedings.

Agabi, lead counsel to Saraki, conferred with his client in the box, and at the end of the conversation, announced that the defence would no longer call the remaining three witnesses.
He consequently applied for a date for adjournment to enable parties adopt their final addresses

Chairman of tribunal, had subsequently adjourned the matter till February 27.
Although Saraki was arraigned in 2015 on 18 count charge, the tribunal had on June 13, 2017, discharged and acquitted Saraki in a ruling on a no-case submission.
The tribunal had held that the charges against him were based on hearsay which cannot be supported with laws.

However, the Court of Appeal on December 12, 2017, in a judgment on an appeal filed by the federal government nullified 15 of the charges and ordered the Senate president to respond to only three counts, prompting Saraki to return to the CCT.
With this development, the two parties would on March 8 addresses the Tribunal on contentious issues only after which a date for final judgment would be fixed.