Court Of Appeal In Abuja Adjourns Indefinitely And Agrees To Communicate New Date For Ruling In Saraki’s Challenge Of His Arraignment Before The CCT
Heartache sits still for Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, yesterday as the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, adjourned ruling on an application brought by the embattled governor of Kwara State, indefinitely.
The Court of Appeal was expected to enter a ruling in an application, by Saraki, challenging his trial by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for false declarations in his asset declaration form while still serving as governor in Kwara State. Both supporters and antagonists of the Senate president, who had gathered at the Appeal Court to follow the proceeding, were disappointed when, after several minutes of waiting, a registrar of the court announced that the matter had been put off indefinitely.
The registrar did not however give any reasons for the indefinite adjournment. He announced that a date when the verdict will be delivered will be communicated to the parties later. The UNION observed that there were no judges and even counsel to the CCT was absent.
Saraki was charged before the CCT on 13 counts of false and anticipated entries in his asset declaration form while he was governor.
The 13 charges were brought against Saraki under the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act in case number CCT/ABJ/01/15 on 11 day September 2015, and signed by Hassan Muslim Sule, a deputy director in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation. The charge bore Sule’s Nigerian Bar Association’s stamp and seal with number 00113284.
“That you, Dr. Olubukola Abuba- kar Saraki whilst being the executive governor of Kwara State, on or about 16th September, 2003 within the jurisdiction of this honourable tribunal did make a false declaration in the assets declaration form for public officers on assumption of office as governor of Kwara State by making an anticipatory asset declaration in that you claimed to have owned and acquired No 15A and 16B McDonald, Ikoyi, Lagos through your company Carlisle Properties Limited in the year 2000 when the said property was in actual fact sold by the implementation committee on federal government landed properties in year 2006 to your companies Tiny Tee Limited and Vitti Oil Limited for the aggregate sum of N396,150,000.00 and thereby committed an offence under section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act…”, read the first charge.
But Saraki denied the charges and insisted that he had regularly updated the CCB on his acquisitions, in and out of office. He also said “this is another case of desperation to fight Dr. Saraki because of his recent stance on national issues”.
Responding in a 13 paragraph statement released yesterday by his media office, Saraki said: “It should be noted that at the time of writing this statement (10.00am on September 16, 2015), Dr. Saraki has not been served the court process. However, we recognize that as a public officer, he owes members of the public explanation on the allegations contained in the charge sheet”.
Dismissing the charges as “false, incorrect and untrue” the embattled Senate President said he had “consistently declared his assets as required by law at every point before resuming any political office and that of 2015 is not an exception. It is surprising that the alleged charges are now referring his asset declaration made in 2003 while in office as Governor of Kwara State to formulate their charges. They therefore ignored the recent declaration for which they last week issued an acknowledgement”.
“That we believe that the Code of Conduct Bureau following their processes in which after a declaration is submitted to the bureau they ought to have carried out their verification of the assets and ascertain the claims made and not wait till 12 years later to be pointing out an alleged inconsistencies in a document submitted to it in 2003.
“This is why we are of the opinion that present effort is a desperate move initiated due to external influence and interference.
“It should also be noted that contrary to the procedure indicated in the law setting up the CCB, the bureau never wrote to Dr. Saraki to complain of any inconsistency in his asset declaration forms”.
Though Saraki said that as Kwara State governor he “never operated a foreign account” the charge sheet, at charges 10 stated that he “failed to declare a loan in the sum of N375,000,000. 00 obtained from Guarantee Trust Bank in February 2010 the proceed of which you converted into Great (Britain) Pound Sterling in the sum of 1,516,194.53 GBP and remitted to Fortis Bank SA/NV as full and final of mortgage redemption for undisclosed property you purchased in London and you thereby committed and offence contrary to Section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.”
The charge also accused Saraki, as governor, of operating a foreign bank account when he “transferred the sum of $73,223.28 from your Guarantee Trust Bank Plc domiciliary account No 441441953210
to the American Express Services Europe Limited No. 730580 for onward credit to your American Express Bank, New York card account No: 374588216836009 and you thereby committed an offence.”
Charge 12 accused Saraki as also laundering money as governor. It stated that “.you transferred the aggregate sum of $3, 400, 000.00 from your Guarantee Trust Bank Plc domiciliary account No 441441953210 to American Express Services Europe Limited no: 730580 for onward credit to your American Express Bank, New York card account no: 374588216836009 and you hereby committed an offence.”.
In all, the charge accused Saraki of concealing ownership of properties located in Ikoyi and Maitama areas of Lagos and Abuja, which he allegedly refused to declare in his asset declaration form while he was sworn in as governor in Kwara State and later, as senator.
– Our Reporter