Saraki’s Trial: Cross Examination Of Prosecution Witness Ends

Saraki, forgery,The cross-examination of chief prosecution witness, Mr Micheal Wetkas, in the trial of Nigeria’s Senate President , Dr. Bukola Saraki, has ended.

Counsel to the Senate President, Mr Paul Usoro, at the resumed sitting on Tuesday asked the witness if he still stood by his claims that the Senate President received salaries four years after he left the Kwara State Government House as governor, even though he was receiving salaries as a Senator and the witness answered in the affirmative.

Done with that Mr Usoro informed the Tribunal that he had come to the end of cross-examining the witness.

When asked if they wanted to cross-examine, the prosecutor Mr Umar Ibrahim who stood in for the lead prosecutor Mr Rotimi Jacobs asked for an adjournment to enable the prosecution prepare for a re-examination

The Chairman of the Tribunal, Mr Danladi Umar, then told parties in the case that the Tribunal would not be able to adjourn to any date in 2016 and subject to the agreement of parties the trial has been adjourned to January 11, 2017.

Senator Bukola Saraki is facing trial for alleged false assets declaration.

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.

Saraki’s Trial Continues At The CCT

Senate President, CCT, SarakiCross examination of the prosecution witness in the trial of the Senate President Bukola Saraki, continues at the Code Of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja.

Under cross-examination on Wednesday, Mr Michael Wetkas, insisted that the Senate President did not declare the property he bought in London and the loan he used to buy the property at the end of his tenure as Governor of Kwara State in 2011.

He was, however, not able to provide evidence showing that the property was purchased by the defendant.

This was a continuation of his cross-examination on Tuesday when he explained the numbering of a property on MacDonald Street, maintaining his testimony that number 15 was one and the same property.

Saraki’s Trial Continues With More Drilling For Wetkas

Bukola Saraki, Senate President, CCTThe cross-examination of an operative of the anti-graft agency and prosecution witness, Mr Michael Wetkas, in the trial of the Nigerian Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal continued on Wednesday.

The CCT went ahead with the trial in spite of the nationwide strike declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

This is a continuation of his cross-examination on Tuesday when he explained the numbering of a property on MacDonald Street, maintaining his testimony that number 15 was one and the same property.

At the resumed session on Wednesday, a counsel to Dr. Saraki, Mr Paul Usoro, asked the witness to read page 9 of exhibit 3.

He was being drilled about his testimony regarding transfer of funds between foreign accounts held by the defendant.

He said that from the dollar account you would see a debit entry €1,200,000 on April 12, 2010 and that in the narration it was written ‘dollar exchange for Dr. Bukola Saraki’.

He added that on the pound sterling account which is exhibit 9, on that same day there was a credit in pounds sterling.

He said further that on February 15, 2010 there was a transaction with a debit of 1million dollars with the same narration like the first one seeking conversion of the funds to pound sterling and also on the same day there was a credit of $632,511.07 with a narration seeking conversion to pound sterling.

Wetkas then referred the tribunal to exhibit 8 where said funds were converted into pounds on behalf of the defendant.

When asked if there must be a telex for the transfer, the witness says yes. He also identified the telex which is part of his exhibit.

Having identified all the transfers, he was asked to read count 11 which is for making a false declaration which Dr. Saraki submitted at the end of his second tenure, where he allegedly failed to make declaration of loan he obtained from a commercial bank and remitted to Fortis Bank in full and final payment for undisclosed property he bought in London.

Mr Wetkas said that exhibit 7 has an offer letter of banking facility for the purchase of a property in London.

Mortgage Intervention
He insisted that the Senate President did not declare the property he bought in London and the loan he used to buy the property at the end of his tenure as the Governor of Kwara State in 2011.

According to Mr Wetkas, the London counterparts of the anti-graft agency are yet to furnish the commission with the details of the property.

He told the tribunal that Senator Saraki did not declare over 375 million dollars, which he converted to pound sterlings for the purchase of two houses in London that were also not declared.

When asked to read the telex for the transfers for the said transaction which he had earlier tendered as evidence, the witness pointed out that it was for mortgage intervention.

Asked if he knew the meaning of mortgage intervention, the witness admitted that he had little knowledge of mortgage business, but that the commission reached out to their counterparts in London, who gave them details of the title deeds of the property and the owner.

He, however,  said he was not in possession of the documents when asked if he had evidence to substantiate his claims.

On counts 10 and 15, Mr Wetkas told the tribunal that he did not give any testimony about them.

He was then directed to Count 5 which accused the Senate President of failing to declare his interest in number 37b Glover Road, Ikoyi and that he failed to declare the said property in his asset declaration form in 2011, and also failed to declare the annual income of 5.5 million Naira annual rent accrued from the property.

When asked how he came about that conclusion, the witness said that the Managing Director of Carlisle Properties and Investment owned by the defendant, one Mr Sule Izuabe, told him, under interrogation, that all the properties managed by the company was owned by the defendant and that during a search of the premises of Carlisle Investments and Properties Limited, the operatives of EFCC came across a document, which was labeled as ‘estimated annual income’.

This he said, made him reach the conclusion that the property was owned by the defendant.

When asked if he had the title deed of the property, Wetkas said the document contained the name of four different owners.

He said the property was linked to the Senate President because of the income that was linked to the property, but that other officers had further investigated the ownership of the property and would be testifying in that regard.

The witness also admitted under cross examination that he had no document to show that the sum of 5.5 million Naira as alleged in the charge accrued to the defendant.

The proceedings was adjourned to Wednesday, May 25 2016 for continuation of cross examination.

CCT Chair Says Tribunal Was Under Influence To Convict Tinubu

CCT ChairmanThe Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Mr Danladi Umar, made a stunning revelation on Tuesday, saying the Tribunal was under influence to convict a former Lagos State Governor and leader of the All  Progressive Congress, Senator Bola Tinubu, when he appeared before it some six years ago.

In comments made to emphasise the Tribunal’s commitment to ensuring justice in the trial of the Nigerian Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Mr Umar tried to allay the fears of prejudice raised by counsel to the accused.

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

Mr Umar did not say who influenced the Tribunal at that time.

Feared Prejudice

Senator Tinubu was charged before the CCT and discharged in 2011 during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

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,” he further stated.

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”.

Before proceedings began, Mr Umar insisted that only the lead counsel of the defendant would cross-examine the witness, saying it would help ensure a tidy process.

Saraki’s Trial : Witness Cross-examination Continues At CCT

Court-dockThe cross-examination of a witness in the trial of the Nigerian senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal on false asset declaration has continued.

Continuing with proceedings on Tuesday after the Chairman of the Tribunal, Mr Danladi Umar, ordered that only the lead counsel of the defendant should cross-examine the witness, a counsel to Dr. Saraki, Mr Paul Usoro, requested that the witness be given exhibit 1,3,15.

When asked about the numbering in MacDonald Street, the witness, who is an opertive of the anti-graft agency, Mr Michael Wetkas, maintained his testimony that number 15 was one and the same property.

He also told the Tribunal that the Presidential Implementation Committee (PIC) on the sales of the Federal Government properties did not tell them that they were two separate property and that the Managing Director of Carlisle Properties and Investment Limited did say that the property belonged to the Senate President.

Mr Wetkas also said that the defendant, in his asset declaration in 2011 and 2015, declared it as number 15 and not number 15 A and B, claiming that that was why the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) maintained the position that it was the same property.

He further said: “In fact, there is a letter written to the Senate President by the Ministry of Housing telling him that there is a presidential concession that number 15 MacDonald be sold to the defendant.

“All the while there was no mention of 15 A and B that is why we say that the nomenclature is just for the convenience of the defendant”.

Asking a follow up question, Mr Usoro pointed out the witness had brought new details into the mix.

He asked again: “What makes you think that the defendant by 2007, because you have earlier said it was not declared, what makes you think the defendant has expanded the property”?

Responding, the witness said he believes that “when you by a property you decide how to restructure or renovate it”.

“I did not ask him if he did the restructuring and remodelling,” he told the Tribunal, saying they believe that it is one and the same property.

The Tribunal then took him to page 187 of the document from the PIC, with the defence counsel asking when the letter by the occupant of number 15 Mr Eguwagu to the PIC was written. He responded, June 21, 2008.

The Counsel further asked if the petition came after the asset declaration of the Senate President. He said yes and explained that the asset declaration of the Senate President was done on July 11, 2007, about a year difference.

Mr Usoro further drilling him said: “According to the letter by Mr Eguwagu, is it true that he said curiously that nobody had approached me to say he or they have bought the property and that the property was handed over to him by Ministry of Housing and that he was still leaving in the property?

Mr Wetkas agreed that by the content of the letter by Mr Eguwagu was still leaving in the property by 2008 June.

He was also asked if Mr Egwuagu also said that nobody had approached him that they had bought the property including Tiny Tee.

The witness also agreed that Mr Egwuagu also attached some documents which included the content referred to by Mr Wetkas.

Mr Usoro then told the Tribunal that he withdrew an initial statement that Mr Wetkas lied, saying instead that he misrepresented the facts.

When Mr Wetkas was asked if he had any other documents that contradicted the information in Mr Egwuagu’s letter, he said he had none.

When asked if he said there was a letter written by the committee that the presidency had said the property should be given to the Senate President, Wetkas answered in the affirmative and also produced the letter as ordered by the Tribunal, which was the page 122 of exhibit 16.

He was then asked to read the document  and show anything in the letter that specifically showed that 15 A and B were not the same as he said earlier. He could not mention any part of the letter that contained that and then he told the Tribunal that there was nothing in the letter that said so.

He however, stressed that why he brought the letter was for prove that number 15 existed and that it was offered to the defendant because all the correspondence, with regards to the case all, mentioned Number 15 and not 15A and B .
.
According to the letter, the then President, Mr Olusegun Obasanjo, gave special presidential concession to Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

When asked if he still stood by charge one that Saraki on September 16 2003, did make an anticipatory asset declaration of number 15A and B, which he claimed to have acquired in the year 2000, by his companies Tiny Tee and BT Oil Limited, he said that the bank record of payment showed the list of directors of Bt Oil.

He was asked if he investigated BT Oil, he told the Tribunal that he did not check, explaining that he was yet to established a link between BT Oil and Dr. Saraki.

He was then handed the joint report of the EFCC/Code of Conduct Bureau investigative team and he identified them as same.

The defence then asked that the document be tendered in evidence.

Saraki’s Trial: Defence Counsel Drills Prosecution Witness, Michael Wetkas

Saraki, Michael WetkasThe trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki over alleged false declaration of assets at the CCT continued on Tuesday with the cross examination of prosecution witness, Mr Michael Wetkas, by the defence.

This was after the tribunal Chairman ruled in favour of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki that the defence have a right to conduct their defence in the manner it suits them and the tribunal is bound to allow the defence use every legal instrument at its disposal to conduct its case.

The prosecutor urged the tribunal to compel the defence to stick to only one counsel rather than “change counsels every day” to make the trial tidy.

However, counsel to Dr. Saraki, Mr Paul Usoro says that argument of the prosecutor was absurd in law because the defence, having announced all of his counsels is entitled to use any of them for the justice of the case.

The tribunal asked the prosecution to be patient and allow the defence defend its client to its best but noted that the tribunal can draw their attention if they go out of the bounds of the law.

During cross-examination, one of the defence counsels, Mr Paul Ilokoro, asked the witness if he had ever seen the original copy of the exhibits he presented before the tribunal.

The witness, who led the EFCC team of investigators who worked on Mr. Saraki’s assets declaration forms, Mr Michael Wetkas said that the documents were with the CCB and that he was only furnished with other copies.

“At a point we were asked to work with officials of the CCB.  In the course of our investigations, there is no how you will investigate economic and financial crime that assets will not be involved.

“So normally in the course of our investigations, we asked persons under investigation to fill assets declaration forms provided by the Commission itself.

Mr Micheal Wetkas then added that this is so almost in all cases and that in the instant case, the asset declaration form he tendered was the one provided by the Code of Conduct Bureau.

When asked if he had seen the original copy of the asset declaring form he tendered, he said he had always worked with the certified true copy given to him by the investigating team members from CCB.

However, when asked again if he had ever sighted the original, he said that he had seen it during investigation and when asked why the original were furnished to team and not the court, he said that he did not demand for it and he only used it for sighting.

He further said that the certified true copy serves the same purpose as the original.

When asked if in the course of investigation whether there were several original or just one, he said that the normal thing is to have just one original of a document.

The defence counsel then recalled a claim made by the prosecution witness that Dr. Saraki had 1.5 billion Naira in his account shortly before he became Kwara State Governor in 2003 and demanded for a recalculation of the figures as stated in Appendix 7A of Exhibit 1.

But the prosecution counsel objected that the recalculation was unnecessary since Mr Wetkas was the same person who presented those figures in the first place.

The defence counsel, Mr. Ilokoro, responded, “My lord, as you can see, the documents were dumped for the press in order to scandalise my client. It is obvious they have no coherent figures to prove false assets declaration.”

When probed further, Mr Wetkas also confirmed to the defence counsel that the stamp used to confirm the completion of assets verification documents after their investigation did not carry a date.

When asked if his evidence was intended for the tribunal to see the defendant as someone who was not a man of means, Mr Wetkas answered in the negative.

 

Alleged False Declaration Of Assets: Saraki’s Trial Continues

Saraki, Senate President, CCTThe trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Abubakar Saraki, over alleged false assets declaration has continued at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

The Chairman of the tribunal and the other members arrived while the Senate President in company of some lawmakers and well-wishers were already seated.

At the commencement of trial, the prosecutor urged the tribunal to compel the defence to stick to only one counsel rather than “change counsels every day” to make the trial tidy.

However, one of the counsels to Dr. Saraki, Mr Paul Ilokoro said that the argument of the prosecutor was absurd in law because the defence, having announced all of his counsels, is entitled to use any of them for the justice of the case.

He concluded by saying that the request of the prosecutor was only to waste the time of the court but the prosecutor insisted that only one person can cross-examine the witness.

However, reading Section 36 Subsection 6 of the constitution, the counsel to Saraki pointed out that the law enables the defendant to defend himself with legal practitioners.

In his ruling, the Chairman of the tribunal said that the position of the Defence was right.

Justice Umar ruled that the defence has a right to conduct its defence in the manner it suits it and the tribunal is bound to allow the defence use every legal instrument at its disposal to conduct its case.

However, the tribunal can draw their attention if they go out of the bounds of the law.

He asked the prosecution to be patient and allow the defence defend its client to its best.

At the last hearing on Thursday April 28, the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar had 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. Dr. Bukola Saraki then pleaded not guilty to the amended 16-count charges of alleged false declaration of asset filed against him.

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

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

Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, had earlier in the day also dismissed the application filed by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki seeking Umar’s withdrawal from his trial, holding that the application lacked merit.

Saraki Pleads Not Guilty To Amended Charges

Senate PresidentThe senate president, doctor Bukola saraki has 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 amended charges, which are coming more than 7 months after the commencement of his trial, replaces the thirteen count charge initially preferred against him.

Three of the charges among other things, accused the Senate President of failing to declare ownership of an American Express card account.

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).”

The Code of Conduct Tribunal, ruled and accepted an amended the 16-count charge filed by the prosecution against the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki despite objection from the defence counsel.

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.

According to him, the fresh charges are necessitated by the evidence to be given and the facts in them.

Responding to the application, counsel to Dr. Saraki, Mr Paul Usoro, said that relying on Section 216, sub section 1 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the business of amending a charge is at the discretion of the tribunal.

“The point we make is that the discretion can only be exercised based on facts before the tribunal and there is no such application before the tribunal.

“So it should be filed and we can reply to it, particularly since we are cross examining based on each of the counts and we should also be given an opportunity to react,” he said.

He further said that an amendment is not a matter of force, but at the discretion of the court.

He argued further that the position of the prosecution that the fresh charges are necessitated by facts raised in its witness’ testimony needs to be proven as it cannot just be announced from bar or orally.

He noted that he was not opposed to the withdrawal of the first charges filed but has “a problem with the one he is applying to replace it with”.

“For us to be able to say yes or no we need the particulars that show the facts.”

The prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, in his response, said that the only issue to determine is whether Section 216 requires a formal application before the prosecution can amend its charges.

He submitted that there is no provision for that requirement but instead it says whenever the prosecution wants to amend at any time before judgment, he should do so and draw the attention of the court to it but ensure that it is read out to the understanding of the accused.

This he said is according to Section 163 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Ruling, the Chairman of the tribunal agreed with the prosecution that there is no condition precedent for the charge to be amended.

He held that it is automatic and straightforward, therefore the prosecution needs not give any reason provided it is done before judgment.

CCT Accepts Amended 16 Count Charge Against Saraki

SarakiThe Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar has 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.

According to him, the fresh charges are necessitated by the evidence to be given and the facts in them.

Responding to the application, counsel to Dr. Saraki, Mr Paul Usoro, said that relying on Section 216, sub section 1 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the business of amending a charge is at the discretion of the tribunal.

“The point we make is that the discretion can only be exercised based on facts before the tribunal and there is no such application before the tribunal.

“So it should be filed and we can reply to it, particularly since we are cross examining based on each of the counts and we should also be given an opportunity to react,” he said.

He further said that an amendment is not a matter of force, but at the discretion of the court.

He argued further that the position of the prosecution that the fresh charges are necessitated by facts raised in its witness’ testimony needs to be proven as it cannot just be announced from bar or orally.

He noted that he was not opposed to the withdrawal of the first charges filed but has “a problem with the one he is applying to replace it with”.

“For us to be able to say yes or no we need the particulars that show the facts.”

The prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, in his response, said that the only issue to determine is whether Section 216 requires a formal application before the prosecution can amend its charges.

He submitted that there is no provision for that requirement but instead it says whenever the prosecution wants to amend at any time before judgment, he should do so and draw the attention of the court to it but ensure that it is read out to the understanding of the accused.

This he said is according to Section 163 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Ruling, the Chairman of the tribunal agreed with the prosecution that there is no condition precedent for the charge to be amended.

He held that it is automatic and straightforward, therefore the prosecution needs not give any reason provided it is done before judgment.

In the meantime, the cross examination of prosecution witness, Mr Micheal Wetkas, has begun and according to the defence counsel that will be on count one.

Saraki’s Trial: CCT Chairman Dismisses Application Seeking His Disqualification

CCT ChairmanThe Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal has dismissed the application filed by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki seeking his withdrawal from Saraki’s trial at the tribunal, holding that the application lacks 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.

Justice Umar said that in the instant case, the EFCC which carried out the investigation of the Chairman of the CCT has come out to say that it has no case against the Chairman.

The letter referred to by the defence was an interim report which was made to the Attorney-General in 2014 and that a further correspondence by the anti-graft agency indicated clearly that the Chairman has been cleared because there was no sufficient evidence against him.

He also said that the EFCC is not answerable to the Attorney-General in the cause of performing its constitutional duty as the position by the defence that only the Attorney-General can clear the CCT Chairman is misconceived.

He explained that only the EFCC which investigated the Chairman can clear him, and this they have done.

Finally, he added that it is to be noted that the letter of June 2015 supersedes that of March 5, 2014.

Therefore, the “tribunal holds that the application lacks absolute merit and is hereby dismissed in its entirety”.

The Application

The Chairman of the Tribunal, Mr Danladi Umar, had fixed Thursday, April 28 for ruling on the Senate President’s application and then continuation of the cross examination.

This was after the counsel to the Senate President, Mr Raphael Oluyede, on Wednesday told the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr Danladi Umar, that he lacked moral justification to preside over his client’s trial on an allegation of false declaration of asset.

He requested that he should disqualify himself from his trial.

SarakiMr Oluyede, 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.

He, therefore, asked the Chairman to excuse himself from the case, in the interest of justice and fair hearing.

Objecting the motion, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, asked the Tribunal to dismiss the motion, claiming it lacked merit.

He accused the Senate President of harassment, citing a bill before the Senate attempting to amend the Act that established the CCT and the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Mr Jacobs also described the issues raised in the motion as matters of sentiment which had no place in law.

He also accused the Senate President and his team of predicating the motion on the wrong assumption that the EFCC was the one trying the Senate President when it was the Federal Government.

To this end, he asked that the motion be discountenanced.