BY CHUKS NNOCHIRI in Abuja•
Nigeria’s Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday requested the Supreme Court to set aside the verdict of the Court of Appeal, which ordered him to face trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal for three out of the 18 counts filed against him before the tribunal.
The Court of Appeal had in a judgment delivered in December last year dismissed 15 out of the 18 counts filed against the Senate President. The tribunal had dismissed all the charges.
Dissatisfied with the judgment, Saraki asked his team of lawyers to contest the appellate court’s judgment at the Supreme Court.
In a notice of appeal filed on December 27, 2017, Saraki raised four grounds upon which he asked the apex court to set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal and uphold the judgment of the CCT.
In order to demonstrate his commitment to prosecute the appeal with dispatch, the Senate President has already ensured that the records of appeal had been transferred to the apex court.
However, he is not appealing against the whole decision of the Court of Appeal. Rather, than he is challenging the part of the decision remitting the case to the CCT for him to enter his defence in respect of counts 4,5 and 6 of the further amended charge.
On ground one, the Senate President said the justices of the Court of Appeal namely: Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson, Tani Yusuf Hassan and Mohammed Mustapha erred in law and by their decision had occasioned a miscarriage of justice when they held that the prosecutor had proffered credible and admissible evidence to establish the ingredients of the offences in counts 4 and 5 of the further amended charge to warrant the respondent (Saraki) to be called upon to enter his defence.
The justices also held that the same finding applied to count 6, which alleged the failure of the respondent to correctly declare in his asset declaration form at the end of his tenure as governor of Kwara State.
The Senate President said contrary to the findings of the Court of Appeal, there were evidence on records which showed that his asset declaration forms were duly received and verified by the Code of Conduct Bureau and were also certified to be correct.
He also argued that having found that the testimonies of the witnesses called by the prosecution were hearsays which could not be relied on, the Court of Appeal was wrong when it turned around and relied on the same testimonies as credible evidence to sustain the three counts identified above.
Saraki also accused the justices of failing to give due consideration to issues of law raised by him.
According to him, a court of law is bound to consider and pronounce on every issue properly raised and argued before it.
He however, argued that the Court of Appeal refused to follow this sacrosanct rule in its judgment.
Specifically, he said the Court of Appeal neglected to give due consideration to his submission that counts 4,5 and 6 were bad in law in that they failed to specify essential elements of the offences charged and were therefore incompetent with the result that the CCT had no jurisdiction to entertain them.
In asking the Senate President to face trial for three counts out of the 18 filed against him, Justice Akomolafe-Wilson who read the lead judgment of the Court of Appeal held that the prosecution led enough evidence to warrant the Senate President to open his defence in respect of the three counts.
“It is ordered that this case be remitted to the Code of Conduct Tribunal for the respondent (Saraki) to enter his defence,” the Court of Appeal held.
In count 4, which was sustained by the Court of Appeal, Saraki was accused of making false assets declaration at the end of his tenure as Governor of Kwara State in 2011 and on assumption of office as a Senator in 2011 in respect of a property at 17A McDonald, Ikoyi Lagos.
The prosecution had argued that the defendant falsely declared to have acquired the property at 17A McDonald, Ikoyi, Lagos September 6, 2006 from the proceeds of sale of rice and sugar.
The Senate President denied all the allegations.