Saraki Asks Appeal Court to Dismiss False Asset Declaration Charges against Him
Senate President, Bukola Saraki on yesterday asked the Court of Appeal, Abuja division to dismiss the false asset declaration charges brought against him by the Federal government.
Saraki, in his final argument on the appeal filed by the federal government against the ruling of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), urged the appellate court to hold that the charges against him were unmeritorious and lacked substance.
In the final argument canvassed by a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi SAN, the Senate President claimed that contrary to the government deposition, the 18 count charges were based on hearsay and deliberate falsehood.
He cited the evidence of a prosecution witness and Head of Investigation and Intelligence Unit, Samuel Madojemu, who testified that the Code of Conduct Bureau CCB, did not conduct any investigation on any asset matter because there was no petition against the defendant.
The Senate President also said that the same witness admitted that CCB did not obtain any statement from him (Saraki) and that the charges were filed against him based on the information supplied by an unnamed team. “From the totality of evidence adduced at the tribunal, it was absolutely clear that the charges were based on hearsay that cannot be substantiated.
“I am surprised that the government claimed that the onus of proof lies on the part of the defendant hence, they did not call vital witnesses.
“This is fatal to the case of the prosecution because in a criminal matter as in the instant case, the onus of proof is to be made by the prosecution”, he said.
Agabi, therefore urged the appellate court to uphold the ruling of the Danladi Umar led tribunal which had earlier discharged and acquitted the defendant for want of diligent prosecution and to hold that the appeal of the government lacked merit.
However, in his own submission, counsel to the federal government, Rotimi Jacobs, urged the Appeal Court to set aside the ruling of the CCT on account of the miscarriage of justice.
Jacobs, who formulated five issues for determination by the Appeal Court pointed out that the tribunal erred in law by basing its ruling delivered on June 13, 2017, on hearsay.
He submitted that oral evidence made in support of a documentary evidence as in the instant case, cannot be said to be hearsay.
“Oral evidence is a hanger that holds the documentary evidence as in the instant case”, he said.
He, therefore, urged the appellate court to set aside the ruling of the tribunal on the grounds that the tribunal misdirected itself in using hearsay as the basis for discharging and acquitting Saraki from the criminal charges against him.
Justice Tinuade AkomolafeWilson after taking arguments from the two parties announced that judgment in the appeal has been reaserved and that the date for its delivery shall be communicated to parties in the suit.
The federal government had in 2015, brought charges of false Asset Declaration against Saraki shortly after he emerged as the Senate President, but Saraki was on June 13, 2017, discharged and acquitted by the tribunal in a ruling on a No Case submission on the grounds that the charges were based on evidence from doubtful sources.