Justice Nguta Pleads Not Guilty To Eight Charges At CCT

Justice Sylvester Ngwuta has pleaded not guilty to eight charges bordering on false declaration of assets preferred against him by the Federal Government before the tribunal.

According to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, Justice Ngwuta contravened section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, laws of the federation of Nigeria, which is punishable under section 23 (2) of the Act.

The Chairman of the CCT, Justice Danladi Umar, adjourned the matter for hearing to July 12, 2017 after the judge pleaded not guilty.

Justice Ngwuta is one of the judges whose residence was raided in October 2016 by the Department of Security Service, which uncovered huge sums of money in in the process.

He is also standing trial before Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on an amended 16 counts bordering on money laundering.

 

Saraki Loses Appeal Against CCT Trial

Saraki, CCT,The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has again failed in his attempt to stop his trial by the Code Of Conduct Tribunal.

Delivering judgment on the appeal filed by the Senate President, Justice Abdul Aboki affirmed that the CCT has jurisdiction to try the case.

The five-man panel of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, agreed that the tribunal erred in discharging former Lagos Governor, Senator Bola Tinubu but the tribunal has since corrected itself in subsequent judgement.

On the claim that a quorum was not formed before he was charged, the court resolved the issue against the Senate President.

Justice Aboki resolved that three men at the Code of Conduct Bureau can adjudicate any matter.

All the four other members of the panel unanimously agreed with the lead judgment delivered by Justice Aboki‎.

Meanwhile, the trial of the Senate President continues at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, where he is facing a 16-count charge of corruption and false assets declaration.

The CCT had earlier 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 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.

With Thursday’s ruling, the CCT will resume Saraki’s trial on November 7 and 8.

The trial had been stalled due to the annual court vacation and the deployment of technicalities by the defence counsels.

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.

False Assets Declaration: First Witness Testifies In Orubebe’s Trial

OrubebeThe first prosecution witness in the trial of former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godsday Orubebe, on Thursday testified.

The witness, Mr Samuel Madojemu, said the former minister failed to declare Plot 2057 Cadastral Zone, Asokoro, a property he owns in Abuja.

Speaking under cross examination, he added that a document obtained by him from the FCT Land Registry as the investigator for the tribunal, indicates that there were three plots of land allocated to Orubebe out of which he declared only two.

He said the plot in question, which was allocated to the former minister on April 10, 2011, was not declared as at the time he was leaving office as Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and at the end of tenure declaration document signed by him on April 27, 2011.

The witness said there was no place in the asset declaration form where Mr Orubebe indicated that the said plot was given to him by the federal government free of charge.

He testified under re-examination by prosecutor, Mohammed Diri, that he invited the defendant via telephone to come and clarify issues regarding the said plot, an invitation he failed to honour and reason for which, the prosecution says he should be held accountable .

But the defense counsel, Larry Selekowei, who ascertained during cross-examination of the witness that he did not confirm in his investigation that the documents were delivered to the former minister before his declaration of assets, insists there is no credible evidence against his client.

Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, has adjourned the case till Tuesday, May 24 for cross examination of the second prosecution witness.

Mr Orubebe is being 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 is also facing charges of allegedly accepting bribes totalling 70 million naira from one Pastor Jonathan Alota for the award of contracts in favour of his company.

 

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).”

 

Alleged False Declaration Of Assets: CCT Continues Day-To-Day Trial Of Saraki

dr-bukola-sarakiThe trial of Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, over charges of alleged false declaration of assets has commenced.

The trial of the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe, was stood down to accommodate the Senat President’s trial.

Though counsel to Orubebe complained, he was over ruled by the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Justice Danladi Umar.

Parties to the case announced their appearance before the cross examination of the Chief prosecution witness, Mr Michael Wekpas began.

The witness was told to go through some of the exhibits he tendered as evidence and he confirmed that his investigation of the defendant’s GTB account shows there are transfers to a foreign account.

He also confirmed that there are several telex transfers on the account, some of which are before the Tribunal as exhibits.

According to him, all the telex the investigating team requested were on almost all the debit transactions consummated on that particular account which showed that the defendant gave instructions for a “tea transfer”.

He further maintained that the investigation team had no doubt that the transaction was made to the American Express Bank in Europe, because the debit on the account of the defendant was done and the narration was clear on why and where the money was transferred to.

He added that the prosecution team further requested for additional information and evidence to show proof of the transaction and several of the instructions and telex were provided by the bank .

He, however, noted that that there is an affidavit and police statement to show that some of the documents and telex were burnt, hence his inability to tender them as evidence.

According to him, he is still flipping through to see if the telex that relates to count 11 of the charges was one of the ones the bank said was burnt and that they couldn’t provide, insisting that the transfer was effected.

This is the second day of trial since the Chairman of the Tribunal ruled that the hearing will now be on a day-to-day from 10:00am to 6:00pm.

Mr Wekpas has on Tuesday admitted that neither he nor his team investigated some of the exhibits he had tendered before the Tribunal.

Mr Wekpas, who is an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Kanu Agabi, told the court he did not investigate the petitions, whose exhibits were tendered before the court.

He said that even though his investigation stemmed from an intelligence report obtained by the EFCC, he did not have the report, neither was the report before the Tribunal.

The witness was first questioned on exhibit 11, 12, and 13, which were petitions written by a group known as Kwara Freedom Network, inviting the EFCC to investigate the Kwara State Universal Basic Education Board and borrowings for projects.

Mr Wekpas, who had earlier told the Tribunal that the petition formed the bases of his team’s investigation, however, said he did not investigate the petition, rather another team carried out the investigation.

When asked why he tendered documents he did not investigate, the witness said he carried out the directive of the prosecution.

Also under cross-examination, the witness admitted that investigating the assets declaration of the Senate President did not form part of his schedule of duty.

He explained that three exhibits, which were assets declaration forms of the defendant, were duly examined and stamped by the Code of Conduct Bureau when the documents were shown to him

Mr Wekpas said there was nowhere in the petition that they investigated ‎where Saraki’s asset declaration was in contention.

He said the investigation of the defendant was based on intelligence report obtained by the former Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde and not the three petitions tendered as exhibits and that such intelligence was either provided orally or produced in writing by people who asked to remain anonymous.

The witness stated that the six assets declaration forms submitted by Senator Saraki to the Code of Conduct Bureau were not investigated by his team.

He, however, said his team was directed to investigate the intelligence report alone.

According to him, the intelligence report is not before the Tribunal as exhibit.

Attempt by the prosecution to seek for a long adjournment to enable it study the documents tendered as exhibits was rejected by the Tribunal.

The defence is expected to continue the cross examination of the witness on Wednesday.

Saraki’s Senate Is Perpetrating A Parliament Of Men, Not Of Laws – SERAP

fuel scarcitySocio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on Wednesday accused the 8th Senate under the leadership of Dr Bukola Saraki of perpetrating a parliament of men and not of laws.

The non governmental organisation has also called on the leadership of the Senate to immediately withdraw the unconstitutional summon for Justice Danladi Umar, Chairman Code of Conduct Tribunal to appear before its Ethics Committee.

The Senate, according to SERAP, “can’t arrogate to itself the power to summon judges without violating constitutional safeguards.”

The group said that “The summon represents a direct assault upon the principle of judicial independence as it undermines the constitutional principle of separation of powers and guarantee of a judicial system that is free from outside influence of whatever kind and from whatever source”.

The statement, signed by SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, adds that “the constitutional power of the Senate can only be validly exercised if it’s intended to be in aid of the function of law-making itself.

“There is clearly no suggestion of contemplated legislation in this case. The Senate not only has exceeded the limit of its own authority, but assumed a power which could only be properly exercised by another branch of the government.

“We therefore advise Justice Umar to ignore its invitation as it is of no legal effect whatsoever.

“The Senate in its blind zeal to protect the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, who is facing corruption charges before the Tribunal is working hard to destroy the foundation of the country’s constitutional democracy. This is a blatant usurpation of power, and an attack upon the integrity of constitutional government and the rule of law.

“The Senate doesn’t have the power to summon any judge, including Justice Umar. If there is any credible allegation of corruption against Justice Umar, it ought to be dealt with by the appropriate law enforcement agencies and that cannot be the Senate.”

“The Senate can’t lawfully exercise any authority beyond the limits marked out by the constitution. It is manifestly repugnant to constitutional safeguards which assigns to each organ of the government its exclusive functions and a limited sphere of action. This invitation, coming on the heels of the decision by the Tribunal for Saraki’s trial to be conducted day-by-day pursuant to Section 396(6) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, is clearly politically motivated.”

“While the Senate is empowered under Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to conduct an inquiry for the purpose of enabling it to among others make laws, correct any defects in existing laws, expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence, it doesn’t possess the power to get involved in alleged criminal matter.

“The Senate is in no sense a court, police or anti-corruption agency, and for it to attempt to act as one, would bring about insurmountable legal and political problems.”, SERAP said.

Saraki’s Supporters Besiege Tribunal While Trial Holds

Bukola-Saraki-Appeals-CCT-trialSome supporters of Nigeria’s Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Monday besieged the Code of Conduct Tribunal to protest against his trial for alleged false declaration of assets while in office as the Governor of Kwara State.

The peaceful protesters, showing solidarity with the Senate president, had placards with different inscriptions – “Nigerian youths and students stand firm with Saraki. Let the Senate continue working and no to the ongoing witch hunt of Saraki”.

They also chanted songs in Hausa language.

But their protest did not stop the prosecution from leading one of its witnesses in presentation of evidence against the defendant.

A prosecution witness, Michael Wekpas, continued his testimony before the Tribunal and tendered 17 documents to support his claim that the Senate President did not declare all his assets and in some cases made anticipatory declaration.

Mr Wekpas told the Tribunal that there were instances where the Senate President declared some property at the beginning of his tenure as Governor in 2003 and left others out, which he later declared in 2007 and 2011 respectively.

He also alleged that the Senate President made anticipatory declaration of his property on McDonald Street, Ikoyi, which were numbers 15a and 15b, when the records of the presidential implementation committee on the sales of Federal Government property revealed that the property was only listed as number 15.

He told the Tribunal that out of the two property belonging to the Senate President at numbers 1 and 3 Targus Street, Maitama, the Senator Saraki consistently declared only number.

According to him, even though the Senate President was not the Managing Director of one Carlisle Properties and Investment Limited, by his own admission, he had controlling shares and was the beneficiary of the funds accruing to the company.

Immediately after the examination in chief ended his testimony, the defence began its cross examination.

In his response to questions asked by the defence lawyer, the witness said he did not receive any correspondent from the Kwara State government of any missing funds, neither did he conduct a forensic examination on Kwara State accounts.

He also told the Tribunal that he was not aware that the Kwara Freedom Network, the organisation that petitioned the anti-graft agency, is a fictitious organisation.

The witness, however, said that there was substance in their petition which had been revealed by the investigation.

The defence, however, asked for time to study the documents rendered as evidence before the case would continue.

But the Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, said the trial would continue on a day-to-day basis.

Orubebe’s Trial Stalled Again

OrubebeThe trial of the former Minister of Niger Delta, Mr Godsday Orubebe, over alleged false declaration of assets, has been stalled as the Code of Conduct Tribunal granted the Federal Government two months to amend the charges brought against him.

Chairman of the tribunal, Mr Danladi Yakubu Umar, granted the adjournment despite the accused person’s insistence that he was ready for the trial to go ahead.

The oral application by the lawyer to the Federal Government, Mr Peter Danladu, to alter the charge was, however, opposed by counsel to Orubebe, Mr Selekeowei Larry, who told the tribunal chairman that it was improper for such an application to be treated orally.

Mr Orubebe’s counsel told the tribunal that it was wrong in law for the tribunal and the accused to be taken unawares by the federal government, adding that the alteration to the charge has to be made in writing for all parties to see.

The Tribunal Chairman, after listening to both counsels, adjourned the trial to January 27, 2016.

Orubebe Docked At CCT As Prosecution Fails To Produce Witness

OrubebeThe former Minister of Niger Delta, Mr Godsday Orubebe, has entered a ‘not guilty’ plea for two count charges of false declaration of assets and another two counts of bribery.

Mr Orubebe in counts one and two was accused of failure to declare his assets at plot 2722 Kyamu and plot 2059 in Asokoro district both in Abuja on assumption of office as Minister on September 26, 2007.

In count three, he was accused of accepting 50 million naira bribe from one Pastor Jonathan Alota, on September 19, 2012 for award of contract in favour of his (Alota’s) company, Chemtronics Nigeria Limited.

In count four, he allegedly accepted additional 20million naira bribe from Alota in 2013 for the award of a contract to Chemtronics Nigeria Limited for the construction of skill acquisition centre at Edo State for the sum of 1.8billion naira.

Trial, however, could not commence as the prosecutor told the tribunal that he was not ready with his witnesses.

According to the prosecutor he would require time to get all of his witnesses ready. He therefore asked for two weeks extension to enable him commence with his case.

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, expressed disappointment at the failure of the prosecution to present its witnesses immediately after the arraignment.

He adjourned till November 26 ‎with a warning to the prosecution to come with all their witnesses on the next hearing date.

Orubebe Faces Bribery Trial At CCT 

Orubebe

Former Minister of Niger Delta, Mr Godsday Orubebe, is to be arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on four counts of false assets declaration and bribery.

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

In the other counts, Mr Orubebe is also facing charges of allegedly accepting bribes totalling 70 million naira from one Pastor Jonathan Alota for the award of contracts in favour of his company.

The former Niger Delta Minister is to appear before the Justice Danladi Umar-led Code of Conduct Tribunal on November 9, 2015.

Mr Orubebe’s name was in the news after the Presidential election of March 28.

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.

At the centre in Nigerias capital, Orubebe alleged that the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, had taken side with the opposition political party, All Progressives Congress.

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.