Attempt To Prosecute Bukola Saraki Is Political – Ezeagu

Bukola SarakiA lawyer has described the attempt to prosecute the Nigerian Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) as political.

The National Coordinator, Lawyers of Conscience, Benedict Ezeagu, made the observation on Monday while giving his opinion on Sunrise Daily.

“The attempt to prosecute or arraign Senator Saraki is a political one rather than a judicial prosecution. Not actually based on law when you look deep into the entire processes that were followed to bring him before the Code of Conduct Tribunal,” he said.

Mr Ezeagu noted that the court that is currently trying to prosecute the Senate President lacked the credibility and the moral basis to go ahead with the prosecution.

“The chairman of that Tribunal (Mr Danladi Umar) has a stinking corruption allegation hanging on his neck and he has been indicted by one of the institutions of the state,” he said, referring to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The legal practitioner explained that the chairman of the Tribunal needed to clear the purported allegation before he would have the moral basis to sit on judgement against anybody.

Ezeagu also confirmed that Umar had been investigated and found wanting by the EFCC, insisting that the “EFCC was directed by the former Attorney General to commence his prosecution (and) I have the documents to that effect”.

Senator Saraki is facing charges of false declaration of assets while serving as Kwara State Governor before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

In the last ruling, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Mr Danladi Umar, fixed March 24 to rule on whether or not to quash the charge brought against the Senate President by the Federal Government.

Code Of Conduct Tribunal: Saraki, FG Know Fate March 24

Bukola Saraki Senate president In NigeriaThe Code Conduct Tribunal will on March 24 deliver ruling on whether or not to quash the charge brought against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, by the Federal Government.

The Chairman of the Tribunal, Mr Danladi Umar, fixed the date after parties in the suit had canvased their argument on the application by the Senate President that the charges against him be quashed.

At the resumed hearing, counsel to the Senate President, Mr Kanu Agabi asked the Tribunal to quash the charges against his client because they were not competent in law.

Mr Agabi premised his argument on the ground that conditions precedent for arraignment of any person found to have defaulted the Code of Conduct laws was not fulfilled.

he further told the Tribunal that his client was not invited by the code of conduct bureau, as required by the law to deny or admit the alleged discrepancies and irregularities in the asset declaration form submitted to the bureau 13 years ago.

Mr Agabi also told the Tribunal that “even to this moment, the Senate president has not made any statement as a defendant to the Code of Conduct Bureau upon which he can be effectively put to trial and entering a defence”.

He also said that the Attorney-General of the Federation was wrong in law in initiating the charge, because the Code of Conduct Bureau Act, vested the power to accept asset declaration form, investigation of assets form and prosecution of defaulters on the bureau and not on any external force.

According to him the failure of the Code of Conduct Bureau to summon the Senate president first, to make statements on the discrepancies in his assets, was fatal to the charge before the Tribunal and cannot operate to the detriment of the defendant.

“The CCB is a peculiar institution. It has the duty to accept, examine, to keep custody of assets declaration forms submitted to it and also has power to accept complains from the public on discrepancies that may arise from any form submitted to it.

“In the instant case there is no petition or complain before the CCB. And that the power of the CCB to refer any defaulted to the Code of Conduct Tribunal cannot be delegated.

He recalled the trial of the former Lagos State Governor, Mr Bola Tinubu, who was set free by the Tribunal, because of the failure of the Code of Conduct Bureau to fulfil the condition precedent of inviting him first to make statements on the alleged default before referring him for trial.

According to him such decision ought to be applicable to the Senate president.

He also recalled the case of 10 other former governors who had the opportunity of being invited to defend their asset declaration, but were not referred to the Tribunal after clarifying the allegations against them.

Mr Kanu therefore asked the Tribunal to dismiss the charge for being incompetent and having been filed without observance of the due process of the law.

In his opposition to quash the charge counsel to the Federal Government Mr Rotimi Jacobs, accused the Senate president of engaging in abuse of court process,

“What the Senate president is asking for has been determined by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court therefore the application should be quashed,” he said.