The trial of the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), on 13 counts of alleged false assets declaration is expected to begin today, Friday, March 11.
It was gathered that the prosecution, led by Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), had proposed 13 prosecution witnesses to testify in the case. It will be recalled, during the delivery of verdict on February 5, the Supreme Court, had paved the way for the trial to begin after dismissing the Senate President’s objection to the validity of the charges and the jurisdiction of the CCT to hear the case.
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The Danladi Umar-led tribunal subsequently fixed March 10 for the commencement of the trial, but it later shifted the date to March 11, following a request by Saraki’s new lead counsel, Mr. Kanu Agabi (SAN).
Meanwhile, the embattled Senate President, in a statement signed by Hon. Gbenga Makanjuola, the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President of the Senate, divulged to the Nigerian wider audience that as a firm believer in rule of law, he intends to totally submit himself to the due process of the law as the trial at the CCT commences today.
The statement read: “As the Nigerian carefully follows the proceedings of the case, we must all be guided by the fact that a basic scrutiny of Section 3, Paragraph D of the Act that establishes the CCT and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) states in explicit terms that before any complaint (if any) is forwarded to the CCBt for adjudication, the public officer against whom a complaint is made must be given the opportunity to either deny or admit the claims.
“As it stands, Nigerians must ask why this fundamental and indispensable condition for a trial at the CCT has not been followed.
“What this means is that the condition precedent mandates that Dr. Saraki, as every other citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is entitled to, should have been given the opportunity to explain any perceived inaccuracy, but he was never given the opportunity to do so.
“Secondly and more crucially, the application submitted by the Senate President draws attention to the fact that the 13-year-old declaration forms on which the majority of the impending suit is predicated, were examined and investigated by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) at the time of submission and were found satisfactory to the Bureau’s requirements at the time.
“Given that for 13 years, all the documents from the Senate President’s asset declarations from 2003, 2007 and 2011 were accessible by the Bureau for investigation.
“Saraki’s application states that the condition precedence should have been drawn to it, to give the Senate President the opportunity to explain and address any identified issues.”
“In this regard, as the trial begins, Nigerians should note that this outright non-observance of the rule of law, reaffirms the belief that this trial is borne from political mischief and malice associated with the timeliness and nature of this suit.
“As the head of Nigeria’s legislative branch, Dr. Saraki is confident that justice will ultimately prevail and he is ready, willing and prepared to submit himself to all proceedings that adhere to the strict dictates of the law. He believes that the law must take its righteous course and reassures Nigerians of his commitment to serving the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”