Saraki’s Trial: Appeal Court Fixes May 31 For Hearing

The Court of Appeal, Abuja, on Monday fixed May 31 for the hearing of an appeal by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, challenging the jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct Tribunal to try him on charges, including false and anticipatory asset declaration.

The Senate President is by his appeal challenging a March 24, 2016 ruling of the Danladi Umar-led CCT dismissing his application challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the charges against him.

The Federal Government which is the respondent in Saraki’s appeal also filed a cross-appeal against the March 24, 16 ruling of the CCT.

A five-man bench of the appeal court led by Justice Abdul Aboki, on Monday fixed May 31 for the hearing of both the appeal and the cross-appeal following a request by Saraki’s lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), for a 14-day adjournment.

Kanu said he needed the adjournment to enable him to study the response filed on behalf of the respondent, the Federal Government.

Agabi told the court that he was just served with the final reply by the Federal Government with respect to its (the Federal Government’s) cross-appeal and would require time to look at it.

The lawyer, Mr. Henry Ejiga, who represented the Federal Government, did not object to Agabi’s application for adjournment.

The appeal court then fixed May 31 for the hearing.

Saraki’s earlier appeal aimed at ending his trial was dismissed by the Supreme Court in its judgment delivered on February 5, 2016, ordering him to submit himself for trial.

Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), who represented the Federal Government, had cross-appealed the tribunal’s ruling, arguing that the CCT failed to make findings on its argument that Saraki’s motion, was an abuse of court process.

Jacob contended, among others, that the issue of jurisdiction, having been resolved by the Supreme Court in an earlier appeal by Saraki, ought not to be raised again.

He argued that the apex court, having held in a judgment of February 5, 2016 that the CCT had jurisdiction to try Saraki, it (CCT) ought not to entertain another motion filed by Saraki challenging its jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, Saraki’s trial before the CCT resumes today (Tuesday) with his team of lawyers expected to resume their cross-examination of the first prosecution witness, Michael Wetkas.

On May 11, 2016, when proceedings were last held, Wetkas said his investigation team relied on information provided by the Presidential Implementation Committee on the Alienation of Federal Government Properties in reaching the conclusion that Saraki made anticipated asset declaration.

The Senate President is being prosecuted by the Federal Government in 16 counts including alleged breaches in the forms which the Senate President submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau when he was the governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.


Credit: Punch

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