Friday, May 20, 2022

False Assets Declaration: Supreme Court clears Saraki, says Senate President has no case to answer

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Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the appeal of Senate President Bukola Saraki and ruled that he has no case to answer before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.

In a lead judgment delivered by Justice Centus Nweze, the apex court discharged him of the remaining three counts against him in the case of false declaration of assets.

Mr Saraki had filed an appeal at the apex court to challenge the ruling of the Court of Appeal, which asked the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, to try him on three of the 18 counts brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

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In the appeal, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the appellate court, which held that Mr Saraki had questions to answer regarding charges 4, 5 and 6 in an 18-count of non-declaration of assets and money laundering before the CCT.

The court noted that since the lower court held that the prosecution failed to call those who had direct knowledge about the fact and then turn around to rely on parts of it to reach its position, hearsay evidence cannot be used as proof to establish a prima facie case on three out of the 18 counts.

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It then vacated the ruling of the appeal court which it said was equivalent of an “analytical somersault” and in its place, restored the position of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

In June 2017, the CCT quashed an 18-count of false asset declaration and money laundering levelled against the Senate President by the EFCC for lacking in merit.

The tribunal had also agreed with the Senate President that he had no case to answer.

While the appeal court agreed in part with the lower court in its ruling on January 14, 2018, it held that Saraki had a case to answer in counts 4, 5, and 6, which had to do with his purchase of properties in the Ikoyi area of Lagos State.

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