CCT dismisses false assets declaration charges against Saraki
• Ekweremadu, Fayose say acquittal is victory for democracy
• Adegboruwa, CACOL differ over acquittal
The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) yesterday upheld the no case submission filed by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. It therefore discharged and acquitted him of the 18-count charges of false assets declaration leveled against him by the Federal Government.
The tribunal Chairman, Danladi Umar, in a ruling, held that the four prosecution witnesses failed to establish a prima facie against Saraki.
Umar added that the evidence given by the prosecution witnesses were manifestly unreliable that no court could attach to it, talk less of convicting on it.
The tribunal particularly referred to the evidence in-chief of the third prosecution witness, who admitted that his report was based on information from his team members, stressing that it rendered the whole evidences linking the defendant to the alleged offences invalid.
Mr. Samuel Madojemu had testified to the fact that oral investigation was conducted on Saraki and that there was no written report on him.
The tribunal therefore insisted that such an evidence has no probate value upon which the tribunal can hold the charges against the defendant.
According to the tribunal, no conviction can be made on hearsay.
Umar also stated that the report given by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was more of intelligence gathering rather than conventional investigation.
The moment the tribunal pronounced Saraki discharged and acquitted, he was lifted shoulder high by his colleagues.
Saraki responding to the judgment, said he harbours no grudge against anyone, regardless of the role they might have played in the persecution that he had endured in the last two years.
According to him: ‘’At the beginning of the trial, I maintained that I will clear my name. The conclusion of this trial has vindicated my position. With the outcome of his case, our faith is renewed in our courts and our hope is restored that the judiciary in our country could indeed provide sanctuary for all those who seek justice.‘’
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, described as “victory for democracy,” the discharge and acquittal of Saraki. He said it did not come to him as a surprise.
Also, the Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose hailed Saraki’s triumph as another victory of Nigerians over tyranny, saying; “I am happy that I predicted that the CCT will absolve the Senate President in my 2017predictions and it has come to pass.”
He said the judgment was another lesson for the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) Federal Government that criminal cases are not won on the pages of newspapers.
A constitutional lawyer, Mr. Ebun Adegboruwa said the discharge and acquittal was expected.
He said there was no way any reasonable judge or lawyer could have convicted Saraki because the proceeding could not stand the test of criminal prosecution.
His views however differed to that shared by an anti-graft group, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), which posited that the decision of the tribunal was very disturbing as it smacks of compromise on the side of the Federal Government.
Also, the Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) Mandate Constituency office, Ilorin expressed gratitude to God and humanity for the outcome of the CCT judgment.