- Says judiciary is working
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Saturday in Abuja reacted to Friday’s acquittal of Senate President Bukola Saraki from allegations of false asset declaration by the Supreme Court, saying Saraki persevered, went through tortuous judicial process and was vindicated in the end.
By this development, the president also observed that the countryâ€™s judicial system was working despite the many challenges it faces, warning that no one should be allowed to undermine or break it.
Buhari, in a statement by one of his spokesmen, Malam Garba Shehu, said he had witnessed situations, where people attempted to destroy the judiciary in their desperate bid to escape justice.
According to him, Saraki’s pursuit of his case from the lowest to the apex court should be a precedent for others to emulate, even as he recalled how he went through the same judicial process three times after he lost presidential elections.
He said: â€œI have seen many instances, where individuals and groups seek the destruction of the judicial institution in the foolish thinking of saving their skin, instead of going through the painstaking process of establishing their innocence.
â€œIn the case of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, I have seen him take the tortuous path of using the judicial process. He persevered, and in the end, the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court, says he is not guilty as charged.
â€œThis is what I have done in the three elections in which I was cheated out, before God made it possible for me to come here the fourth time I ran for the office.â€
The president however added that the Senate Presidentâ€™s journey from the lowest to the highest court of the land should serve as an important example for other Nigerians to emulate.
Saraki was first dragged before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on September 18, 2015, exactly three months after he emerged Senate President, he did not however appear until September 22 of the same year and pleaded not guilty to the corruption charges.
However, two years after the trail commences, the CCT on June 14, 2017, discharged and acquitted Saraki of all the 18-count charge. But the presidency immediately kicked, describing it as outrageous and a travesty of justice.
The development was however believed to have spurred a Court of Appeal ruling on December 12, 2017, which ordered a retrial of the case, but on three-count charge.
Saraki too challenged ruling by approaching the apex court, which on Friday, discharged him of all the false asset declaration charges.
Justice Centus Chima Nweze, in his judgment, set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal and affirmed the decision of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), which had earlier upheld the no case submission of Sarakiâ€™s counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN.
The Supreme Court held that the prosecution failed to call material witnesses to support its case against the Senate President and agreed that all those, who had knowledge of facts, were not called to testify in the matter.
In addition, the court held that those, who tendered documentary evidence against Saraki during the trial were not makers of the document and as such, their evidence on the documents was hearsay and lacked probative value.