CCT acquittal: I’ll win again at appeal court, says Saraki

Bukola Saraki

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, said on Friday that he remained unperturbed over the decision of the Federal Government to appeal against the judgment of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which acquitted him of false and anticipatory declaration of assets when he was governor of Kwara State.

“This appeal against the CCT ruling is nothing but another attempt to grandstand and embark on another media trial without any substance.

“This is why the Senate President is sure it will be another exercise in futility,” a statement on Friday by the Special Adviser to Senate President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, said.

The CCT had, on June 15, 2017, discharged and acquitted Saraki of all 18 charges preferred against him.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, through a private prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), and a lawyer in the AGF’s office had, on Tuesday, filed 11-ground notice of appeal against the acquittal, describing the CCT’s judgment as “unreasonable.”

In the statement, Saraki said he was confident that the verdict by the appellate court would not be different from that of the Tribunal, as the facts of the case remained the same and the grounds on which the decision of the CCT was based remain unassailable.

The Senate President also alleged that there were forces in the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration and collaborators outside the government who were bent on “pulling him down.”

The statement read in part, “Anybody who has been following the proceedings and the evidence given by the prosecution witnesses during examination-in-chief and cross-examination should know that if presented before any court of justice and law, the same outcome as in the CCT would be arrived at.

“Those who are running commentary on the ruling by the tribunal and criticising it are those who are not even familiar with the case and the details coming out of the trial. That is why Dr. Saraki continues to wonder how desperate some people in government and their collaborators outside have become to pull him down at all costs and by all means up to the point that they do not care if they destroy the institution of the judiciary in the process.

“That is why they sponsored stories of allegation of bribery in an online publication against the tribunal judges.

“The Senate President seizes this opportunity to call on security agencies to immediately commence investigation on this bribery allegation. It is his views that those who made the allegation should be invited to substantiate their claims.

“This same desperation made a man like Prof. Itse Sagay, the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Anti-Corruption, to appear on tape, admitting in a foreign country that he interfered with the process in the Tribunal when, in an unethical manner, he was instructing the judge on how to conduct the trial.

“Corruption is not just about giving or diverting money; when an official interferes with the judicial process with a view to achieving personal objectives, it is corruption.

“The Senate President notes that another sign of desperation by those who want to get him convicted at all costs was the failed antics of the prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) who, in collusion with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, sought to manipulate evidence at the tribunal.

“On realising the fundamental flaw in its case — as it did not invite the defendant to make any statement at any point in the investigation — the prosecution brought in an agent of the EFCC to tender old statements Saraki made in a totally different and unrelated matter that had nothing to do with false assets declaration.”

Saraki stressed that the prosecution forgot that the letter inviting Saraki to make the tendered statements explicitly mentioned the matter being investigated and there were documents to prove this.

“The prosecution tried to circumvent the judicial process by ensuring that the witness did not enter into the witness box so as not to be on oath.

“However, the tribunal, as it is obvious in its ruling, saw through the dirty trick. It, therefore, disregarded that piece of evidence and described it as irrelevant and of no value to the case,” he said.

The Senate President added, “If not desperation by the prosecution, why is the EFCC so involved in a case of false assets declaration which is an exclusive preserve of the Code of Conduct Bureau? All the evidence presented during the trial were from the EFCC.

“The commission rendered the CCB a second fiddle player. That is why the only CCB witness presented by the prosecution gave what the tribunal referred to as ‘hearsay evidence’. The CCB chief prosecutor testified that he got his instruction to investigate the case orally. He  made his report from the investigation orally. Even the directive to ‘collaborate with EFCC’ on the investigation was given orally, a development the tribunal found strange and unknown to law.

“All these antics aimed at perverting the course of justice were obvious throughout the period of the tribunal’s sitting. Though, one is conscious of the fact that the anti-graft agency and its allied bodies are frantically looking for a poster-case to sell its anti-corruption campaign and there is the hunger for conviction in a celebrated case to advertise in the international arena government’s determination to pursue the anti-graft campaign, we implore them to achieve this aim by allowing justice to take its normal course.” Punch

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