Asset Declaration: CCT Quashes Saraki’s Application To Disqualify Chairman

Bukola-Saraki-and-CCTThe Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has struck out an application filed by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, against the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar.

Senator Saraki had accused Mr Umar of being bias and asked him to disqualify himself from hearing the case on alleged abuse of office and non-declaration of asset levelled against the Senate President.

Saraki filed the application at the last sitting of the Tribunal on July 8, following a statement Umar made on July 7 that the defendant must face the consequences of his trial, no matter how much he delayed the proceedings.

Fair Trial From Tribunal

In the motion argued by his lawyer, Paul Erukoro, the Senate President had insisted that the statement was prejudicial and that he was not confident of a fair trial from the Tribunal.

In a ruling delivered at the resumption of the hearing on Wednesday, the Chairman of the Tribunal first apologised for the comment made.

“As human beings, we are bound to make mistakes and it is only (the) Almighty God that is infallible,” said Umar.

CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar
The Chairman of the CCT, Danladi Umar, said only President Muhammadu Buhari could make the decision on his removal

He also expressed surprise that since the alleged comment was made, no one had taken time to verify it, claiming that his statements were misconstrued.

Justice Umar further told the Tribunal that his comment was not intended to prejudice the defendant.

Allegation Of Bias

The Chairman, however, declined to disqualify himself from participating in the trial on the ground of the comment, noting that it was constrained by the provisions of the Code of Conduct Act.

He stated further that the act empowered only the Tribunal to try cases of abuse of office and non-declaration of assets.

Umar pointed out that the Chairman of the Tribunal could not be removed, except where he had reached the age of retirement, or unless the President of Nigeria sent an address to the National Assembly.

He maintained that without any address from the President, there was nothing the National Assembly could do to remove the CCT Chairman.

Umar concluded that that the allegation of bias in the instant case was based on hearsay and not verifiable facts.

He, therefore, threw out the application for lack of merit.

After the decision was made, counsel to the Senate President said they would look at the decision of the Tribunal before taking a position on it.

Code Of Conduct Tribunal Finds Orubebe Guilty

Orubebe, CCT, Code of Conduct TribunalThe Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday pronounced former Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Orubebe, guilty of non-declaration of asset.

The asset is in a choice area of Abuja, Asokoro.

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, announced a forfeiture of the property.

Justice Umar explained that the testimonies and document presented by the prosecution prove that the former minister is guilty as charged.

He further stated that while the minister claimed that the property was on rent from the federal government, the rejection of the claim by his former landlord to allow him exercise his right over the property rendered the power of attorney useless.

The former Minister had pleaded ‘not guilty’ for two count charges of false declaration of assets and another two counts of bribery when arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar
Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar

Mr Orubebe was charged by the Code of Conduct Bureau for alleged failure to declare landed property in Kyamu and Asokoro district, both in Abuja, on assumption of office as minister on September 26, 2007.

In the other counts, Mr Orubebe was also accused of allegedly accepting bribes totalling 70 million naira for the award of contracts in favour of his company.

Mr Orubebe’s name had been in the news after the presidential election of March 28, 2015.

On 31 March 2015, Orubebe, acting as a polling agent for the Peoples Democratic Party, tried to disrupt the proceedings of the 2015 presidential election collation.

Orubebe alleged that the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, had taken side with the opposition political party at the time, All Progressives Congress (APC).

He, however, subsequently apologised to Nigerians over his conduct by tendering an unreserved apology urging them not to follow in his footsteps and explaining that he regretted his action.

CCT Fixes September 21 For Judgement On Orubebe’s Case

OrubebeThe Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Mr Danladi Umar has approved September 21 for the delivery of judgment in the case against a former Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godsday Orubebe.

The judgment is to be delivered in the case of alleged false declaration of assets preferred against the former minister.

The notice of the Tribunal’s sitting schedule for the month of September and October also contains the case of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, whose motion has been slated for ruling on October 5.

Senator Saraki is seeking the withdrawal of the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal from the trial over alleged bias.

Mr Orubebe has denied the allegations, saying he does not own any property which was not declared in his asset declaration form submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

Led in evidence on June 2 by his lawyer, Larry Selekowei, the former minister told the Tribunal that he did not declare Plot 2057 in Asokoro for which he is standing trial , because as at the time he was leaving the government in 2011, he had sold off the land to pay two years house rent.

Mr Orubebe had in 2015 tried to scuttle the collation process of the Presidential election, accusing the electoral body of being bais.

The Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal had in April dismissed the application filed by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki seeking his withdrawal from the trial, holding that the application lacked merit.

In his ruling, Justice Danladi Umar said that the Attorney-General of the Federation has no powers to investigate any person.

“It is only the security and law enforcement agencies that have that power and it is only when they have concluded their investigation that the Attorney-General can prosecute,” he claimed.

The counsel to the Senate President, Mr Raphael Oluyede, had during the hearing insisted that Mr Danladi was still under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the same agency that allegedly filed the criminal charges against him.

He alleged that it was obvious that the said investigation was used as a bait by the EFCC to get Mr Danladi to do its bidding.

 

 

CCT Fixes July 13 To Rule Saraki’s Motion Asking Chairman To Disqualify Himself

CCT, Saraki, Senate President, Bukola SarakiThe Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Tuesday heard the motion filed by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, asking the Chairman of the tribunal to disqualify himself from presiding over his trial for alleged false declaration of assets.

Arguing the motion, Paul Erukoro, who is counsel to the Senate President said that it would no longer be possible for the Chairman to be fair to both parties in the suit.

Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Mr Danladi Yakubu Umar, had on June 7 accused the Senate President of trying to delay his trial.

The tribunal Chairman, who was reacting to the allegation of delay tactics by the prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs against Saraki’s lawyers said that the consequences of the trial and the charges will in no way be reduced on the accused person by his tribunal.

Mr Paul Erukoro said that the prosecution did not object to the facts of the statement and proceeded to read the statement but the prosecutor objected to reading the statement and his objections was upheld.

Erukoro then referred the tribunal to the written address of the prosecution where they, according to him admitted that the Chairman of the tribunal made the statement.

He also told the tribunal that the Chairman of the tribunal was personally served as required by law so that he can refute any part of the motion if he so wishes but the Chairman did not do so.

He said that it is therefore in order to agree that all sides agree that the Chairman made the statement.

He added that the position of the prosecutor that the chairman spoke out of anger and that meanings should not be read into his statement is not admissible.

He also told the Tribunal to reject the proposition of the prosecution that the judgment should be left to the end of the trial because the motion is asking him to disqualify himself from the trial.

Should he go ahead, it will be assumed that he has taken his decision again, citing the decision of the tribunal on April 27, 2016.

Abuse of Court Processes

Responding, the prosecution counsel said he had filed a counter affidavit showing that the prayer being sought is the same trial they have been seeking since the start of the trial.

He added that considering the motion would mean the Chairman taking over the duties of the Appeal Court.

Mr Jacobs also said that the affidavit of concern submitted to the tribunal is not known to law as the law says only a reasonable person who was in trial can speak on an issue.

According to him, the persons listed in the affidavit of concern are political supporters.

He also argued that the Chairman of the tribunal did not state the consequences of offences but the consequences of a trial which can mean an acquittal.

He said that the Chairman did not say “I will convict you” instead he said the consequences of trial, which can be anything; either acquittal or conviction.

He told the tribunal that what the Chairman meant by his statement is that he must conclude the case.

He concluded by saying that the application is frivolous and an abuse of court processes intended to delay the matter.

Tribunal Disbandment

The other member of the tribunal then asked the defence to speak on the issue raised by the prosecution that they want the tribunal to be disbanded.

Mr Erukoro explained that the circumstances will bring to the attention of the executive, the need to properly constitute the tribunal, if the Chairman of the tribunal agrees to disqualify himself.

He added that the law makes provision for appointing persons to hear the case.

Having heard both parties the tribunal initially adjourned to Wednesday, June 22 for ruling but the Chairman quickly changed his mind, saying he would be travelling for two weeks

So he would be adjourning the matter for ruling after his return. He suggested Thursday, July 7 and again suggested July 13 which all the parties agreed with.

Saraki’s Trial Adjourned After Motion Seeking CCT Chairman’s Disqualification

sarakiThe trial of Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, for false asset declaration has been adjourned after he again asked the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal to disqualify himself from hearing the case.

He is calling for the disqualification of Mr Danladi Umar, citing what he called an ‘unguarded statement’ which he claimed was made by the chairman on the sitting of June 7.

The Senate President quoted the chairman as saying: “I am not happy at the delay tactics by the defence counsel and I must say this thing out that this delay tactics will not reduce the consequences the defendant will met from the Tribunal at the end of the trial”.

‘Now Lives In Fear’

Dr Saraki in his motion filed by his counsel also said that the threat of consequences issued by the Chairman of the Tribunal had caused him to lose confidence in the impartiality of the chairman and that he was not confident that he could get justice from the Tribunal if the Chairman continued to preside and ultimately decide the case.

He also claimed that he ‘now lives in fear’ and is deeply worried that the Mr Umar had already decided his fate.

“It is therefore imperative for him to step aside from the case,” a counsel to Dr Saraki told the Tribunal on Wednesday.

However, a prosecuting counsel, who told the Tribunal that the principal prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, was at another proceedings at the appeal court, informed the Tribunal that they have received the motion.

He went further to tell the Tribunal to discountenance the motion at the Wednesday sitting since what was before the Tribunal was the continuation of cross-examination and that the Tribunal should proceed with that.

At this point the Chairman of the Tribunal asked him if he had replied to the motion and Mr Pious Ukeyima said he had just received a further affidavit at the premises of the Tribunal and would be needing time to respond to it.

“The prosecution intends to oppose the motion,” he said and insisted that the cross-examination should continue.

The Chairman of the Tribunal then told the defence counsel that he would hear the motion on Tuesday June 21 and then proceeded with the trial.

He reminded the counsel to Dr. Saraki that it was not the first time, he had been asked to disqualify himself from the trial.

At this point counsel to Dr. Saraki, Mr Kana Agabi, told Mr Umar that his statement had prejudiced the hearing of the motion, insisting that the statement of the Chairman of the Tribunal showed he had made his design already.

But the chairman of the Tribunal told him that he, Mr Agabi, had misconstrued his statements.

“Saying I will continue with the proceedings doesn’t mean I have decided not to disqualify myself,” he told Dr. Saraki’s counsel urging him to be patient until the hearing.

Having heard both parties in the suit, the chairman of the Tribunal then adjourned the proceedings to June 21 for continuation of hearing.

CCT Trial: Saraki’s Lawyer’s Ill Health Stalls Appeal

Bukola Saraki, Senate President, CCTThe hearing of the appeal of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) at the Abuja Federal Court of Appeal has been stalled on Thursday.

The court was unable to sit on the matter as a result of the ill health of Dr. Saraki’s counsel, Mr Kanu Agabi.

The trial was on Wednesday stalled due to the absence of the prosecution’s chief witness, Mr Michael Wetkas, who was testifying in another case.

The Senate President is being tried at the tribunal for alleged false declaration of assets while serving as the Governor of Kwara State.

House Amends Code Of Conduct Bureau And Tribunal Act

House-of-Representatives-NigeriaNigeria’s House of Representatives has considered and passed an amendment to the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.

The Act makes it mandatory for the bureau to ensure that any one who is deemed to have breached the provision of the Act is given the chance to explain before such a case is referred to the Tribunal.

The amendment to Section 3 of the Act now includes a paragraph (e) which says “upon complaint(s) of any breach or where it appears to the Bureau that there is a breach of the provision or this Act, the person concerned shall be given particulars of such non-compliance or breaches to explain before any reference to the Tribunal”.

Section 4 (2) was also amended to substitute the word “President” with “the National Assembly” as the one to appoint members of staff of the Bureau and exercise disciplinary control over them.

about a month ago, the Senate suspended the planned amendments to the CCB, Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Act due to public outcry of Civil Society Organisations.

At the time, the Senate passed it for second reading, the presiding officer, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu had stated that the amendment had nothing to do with the ongoing trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki at the CCT.

Saraki’s Trial: Only Lead Counsel Can Cross-examine Witness, Court Says

Senate PresidentThe trial of the Nigerian Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal for false asset declaration has continued, with the Tribunal insisting that only the lead counsel could cross-examine the witness.

Before proceedings began on Tuesday, the Tribunal Chairman, Mr Danladi Umar, said that the records of the Tribunal showed that there were about 100 counsels for the defence.

According to him, there had been too many counsels cross-examining the witness, a situation he said could make the process untidy.

“To ensure orderliness all counsels cannot cross-examine the witness.

“All the other lawyers could assist Mr Kanu Agabi (Saraki’s lead counsel) rather than every other person in the defence doing the job.

“This will make the process untidy. So, henceforth only the lead counsel, Mr Kanu Agabi, can do the cross-examination,” Mr Danladi stressed.

Raising an issue that had earlier been brought before the Tribunal, Mr Agabi said that he feared prejudice.

“I want to assure you that there is nothing that we have done here to distort the records of the court.

“Are you surprised that those who come before you are afraid?

“People come here and they are ruled by fear of prejudice. Prejudice ought not to have a place at this court but we are afraid,” he stressed.

Mr Agabi, however, pointed out that he had not accused the Tribunal of prejudice.

The Chairman of the Tribunal allaying the defence counsel’s fears, further pledged to be fair in the hearing and to ensure justice.

“I swear by the Almighty Allah to do justice.

“On our part, the insinuations that we are being influenced to see the conviction of the accused is false.

“During Bola Tinubu’s case we were under influence to convict him but we did the right thing,” he told the Tribunal.

Responding to the Tribunal Chairman’s statement, Mr Agabi said he agreed that all the persons in the case would account to God and stressed that “they should all be worried by that fact”.

Another member of the Tribunal also stressed that the issue had been settled that an accused person is entitled to as many lawyers as he wanted, pointing out that the Chairman’s remark was to ensure that there was order in court.

He added that a friend of his wife had, over a telephone conversation, told her that there was an article against her husband.

“The writer was shooting at the wrong person. There is a lot of misgivings as to the proceedings here.

“Those who know my background know am not somebody that keeps quite when things are going wrong.

“If you ask any staff here you will be told the same thing. The article was entirely about me,” he stated.

Coming back to the proceedings, the Chairman pointed out that the concern of the Tribunal was national interest.

“This is about Nigeria,” he stressed before proceedings started.

Discrepancies In Saraki’s Assets At CCT As Tribunal Adjourns

Senate President, Bukola SarakiThere was a heated argument at the Code of Conduct Tribunal over the ownership of a property allegedly bought by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, from the Federal Government.

Senator Saraki is standing trial for alleged false declaration of assets.

Under cross-examination at the proceedings on Wednesday, the prosecution witness, Mr Michael Wetkas, told the Tribunal that the property sold to the Senate President was privately owned.

This was contrary to the claim by the witness that the property was bought from the Presidential Implementation Committee for the Sales of Government Property.

However, the witness while on further cross-examination maintained that from the letters his team received from the Presidential Committee on Sales of Federal Government Houses and the Lagos Land Registry the Property indicated to be on MacDonald Street in Ikoyi, Lagos was number 15 MacDonald Street and Block 1 and not number 15 A and B which was declared by the Senate President in his asset declaration form.

He testified that from his investigation he was able to establish that number 15A MacDonald Street, Ikoyi was the same as number 15 and house 15 flat 1 to 4.

He was then told to read the letter by a second bidder on the property on 15 MacDonald Street, Ikoyi, one Energy Marine Limited

According to the letter, the company pointed out to the then Minister of Works and Housing and the Presidential Committee on the Sales of Federal Government Property that besides the land on ground being different front the measurement on paper, the numbering of the houses were ambiguous.

The letter showed that the property was labelled number 15A and B MacDonald Street, Ikoyi, Lagos, behind another number 15 and as such there would be need to make clarifications.

He admitted that as investigators, they did not invite Energy Marine Limited, the second bidder to explain the letter.

He also admitted that he had seen the letter before now while he said he did not visit the property to clarify the discrepancies.

When asked if based on the letters he went to inspect the discrepancies, he said other members of the investigation team visited MacDonald Street and reported to him.

He also said the report was verbal and that “when the other witnesses in the case take a stand, they will be in a better position to explain”.

When one of the judges of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, William Atedze, asked him how he came to the conclusion that number 15 and block 15 MacDonald Street, Ikoyi, were the same as number 15A and B as declared in the asset of the defendant, he said although he was not conversant with how houses were numbered, as an investigator, he relied on the reports from the Lagos Land Registry and the Presidential Committee which listed the houses as number 15 and block 15 MacDonald Street Ikoyi .

In comments about the day’s sitting, the prosecutor accused the defense of deliberately trying to delay the trial, decrying the way and manner he was handling the cross-examination.

But the defence disagree with him.

The Tribunal then adjourned till May 17 for the defence to continue the cross-examination of the prosecution witness.

Alleged Declaration Of Assets: CCT Adjourns Saraki’s Trial Till May 10

Bukola-Saraki-Senate-president-Nigeria_The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has adjourned till May 10, 2016 the trial of Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.

The Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar had on Thursday ruled and accepted an amended 16 count charge filed by the prosecution against the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.

This prompted counsel to the Senate President to take a fresh plea on the charges being raised.

The trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, for alleged false asset declaration, continued on Thursday with the prosecution asking to replace the former charge against the Senate President with new charges.

This came up just after the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, dismissed the application filed by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki seeking Umar’s withdrawal from his trial, holding that the application lacks absolute merit.

Cross examination of prosecution witness, Mr Micheal Wetkas, by the defence counsel was about to begin when the prosecution asked to withdraw the former charge against the Senate President and requested the leave of the court to enable him read the amended charges to the Senate President.

The former charge was filed on October 18, 2015 and Mr Jacobs asked the court to accept the new charges, dated April 27, 2016 as the case against the Senate President.

Not Guilty

The senate president, doctor Bukola saraki has pleaded not guilty pleaded not guilty to an amended sixteen count charges  of  alleged false declaration of asset filed against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The Senate President was first charged in September 2015 for alleged false and anticipatory declaration of assets.

The two charges read, “That you on or about September 16, 2013 within the jurisdiction of this honorable tribunal did make a false declaration in the asset declaration form for public officers which you filled and submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau upon assumption of office as the Governor of kwara State in the year 2003 by your failure to declare your leasehold interest in number 42, Remi Fani-kayode street, Ikeja, Lagos, which you acquired through your company, Skyview Properties Limited from first Finance Trust Limited on December 12, 1996 and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(1)(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. CAP. C15, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004 and as incorporated under paragraph 11(1) (2), I fifth schedule to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and punishable under section 23(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act as incorporated under paragraph 18, Part I of the fifth schedule to the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”, it read

“That you between June 2011 and October 2013, within the jurisdiction of this honorable tribunal, did receive monthly salaries or emoluments as governor of kwara state and at the same time, from the federal government as a senator of the federal republic of Nigeria and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 6(a) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. CAP. C15, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004 and as incorporated under paragraph 2(a), Part I of the, fifth schedule to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and punishable under section 23(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and tribunal act as incorporated under paragraph 18, Part I of the fifth schedule to the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”

 

Pro And Anti Saraki Groups Protest At National Assembly

SarakiSupporters and opponents of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki on Tuesday, stormed the National Assembly as lawmakers resumed legislative proceedings for the week.

One group was protesting against the trial of the Senate President Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

They alleged that President Buhari is witch-hunting the Senate President because he emerged Senate President against the wishes of the party.

However, another group of protesters demanded that the Senate President steps down over allegations of false declaration of assets.

Both groups, armed with placards bearing varying messages marched to the National Assembly demanding that their voices be heard.

The protesters were, however, not allowed to proceed beyond the main gate of the National Assembly.

the protesters have vowed that they will lay siege to the National Assembly for the next three days.

Reacting to the protests, Senate Leader, Ali Ndume described the anti-Saraki protest as a dangerous precedent.

 

 

Saraki Withdraws Suit Seeking End To His CCT Trial

sarakiNigeria’s Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has withdrawn a motion on notice filed at the appellate court, praying the court to stop his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, pending the determination of his appeal.

Withdrawing the motion on Monday, lead counsel to Saraki, Mr Kanu Agabi, did not give any reason for the decision.

Although the motion was slated for hearing, Mr Agabi, however, stunned the court when he announced that he was withdrawing the motion.

He, however, apologised to the court for making it study the voluminous processes he filed on behalf of his client.

Justice Abdul Aboki, who presided over the three-man panel, struck out the motion.

However, the main appeal still remains even though no date has been fixed for its hearing.

Justice Aboki said the next adjourned date would be communicated to parties in the suit as soon as all court processes had been filed and exchanged by the parties.

In the main appeal the Senate President is still challenging his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), but on the ground that due process was not followed before the 13-count charge was proffered on him.

He also contended that he was not invited by the Code of Conduct Bureau to make statement on the alleged discrepancies in his asset declaration forms, as required by law, before his arraignment.

The Senate President is facing trial at the CCT on allegations of false asset declaration tied to the period he was the Governor of Kwara State.