- Bukola Saraki's trial has resumed at the Code of Conduct Tribunal
- The Seante president was accompanied by some lawmakers
- He was represented by 51 lawyers, though his lead counsel, Kanu Agabi was absent in court
The trial of Senate president, Bukola Saraki resumed on Tuesday, April 5 at the the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
This is the seventh time Saraki would appear at the tribunal.
The CCT had on March 24, ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the case against the Senate president on alleged false declaration of his assets while he was Governor of Kwara state.
While making his introduction at the court, one of Saraki’s lawyers, Paul Usoro (SAN), disclosed tha the Senate president was represented by 51 lawyers.
Some of the lawyers present were Anita Paschal, Okonkwo Okechukwu, Okorie Chijioke, Ijeoma Nwosu, Wasiu Ajiboye, Obi Oscar, Teresa Okonkwo among others.
He apologized on behalf of Kanu Agabi, the lead counsel for not being present because he is away in Akwa Ibom state.
However, this is a reduction compared to the last time. Eighty lawyers on Friday, March 18 represented him at his ongoing trial. On Friday, March 11, he was represented by 66 lawyers, among whom are seven senior advocates of Nigeria (SAN).
Usoro told the tribunal that there was an application for stay of proceedings at the Court of Appeal challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to entertain the matter but the chairman of the tribunal, Danladi Umar, ruled that the commencement of trial cannot be be stopped by the application based on the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
The application for an adjournment by the Senate president was over-ruled by Umar, who said the defendant’s application for adjournment offended provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
The Senate President arrived the CCT in company of some lawmakers.
Only 15 senators showed up for the court hearing which include Sam Anyawu representing Imo east senatorial district, Ibrahim Gobir representing Sokoto east senatorial district and Andy Uba representing Anambra south senatorial district.
Others include Mao Ohabunwa representing Abia north senatorial district, Ali Ndume, the Senate leader, Dino Melaye, chairman for the committee on FCT among others. The first time Saraki appeared in court which was on September 22, 2015, he was accompanied to the tribunal by at least 50 senators on that day. The second time which was on Wednesday, October 21, 2015, Saraki was accompanied by at least 81 senators to the tribunal. This shows that there is a huge reduction in the number of senators pledging their solidarity for the Senate president, whose case has been ongoing since September 22, 2015.
The first time he appeared in court was September 22 2015, while the second time was October 21, 2015 where he was accompanied by 81 senators and the third time was November5 2015. The fourth time he appeared was Friday, March 11 which was adjourned again till Friday, March 18 making it the fifth time.
After which the case was adjourned till Thursday, March 24 which was the sixth time he appeared at the CCT. On this day, his application to stop his trial was dismissed.
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Saraki has been charged with 13 counts of false declarations of assets while he was the governor of Kwara state.
Following his inauguration on May 29, President Muhammadu Buhari directed that all political office holders should declare their assets on assumption of office. This directive led to the collection of assets declaration form from the CCT by Saraki, which according to the tribunal turned out to be false.
The Senate president in his form declared that his total wealth which includes N2.5 million cash at hand and a total of N51 million in various Nigerian banks at the time he filed the document coupled with some money lodged in some foreign banks at the time and companies amongst others.
According to an affidavit and asset declaration form presented by Saraki before an Florin High Court, he was said to have been worth N10 billion naira at the time he was the governor of Kwara state in 2003.
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Out of the the N10 billion, the Senate president was said to be worth N8billion while his wife and four children was worth N1.8 billion and N202 million each respectively.