Apparently in its efforts to ensure Senate President Bukola Saraki does not go unscathed in his trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja, the Federal Government has applied to amend the 16-count criminal charge preferred against him.
The Federal Government had on September 22, 2015, ducked Saraki before the CCT on a 13-count charge.
He was later re-arraigned on April 28, 2016, on an amended 16-count corruption charge.
He is alleged to have made false/anticipatory declaration of assets and operated foreign accounts while in office as Kwara State governor between 2003 and 2011. He is also accused to have collected governorship salary four years after leaving office.
The federal government had earlier called two witnesses that testified against the defendant before the tribunal.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Wednesday, the third prosecution witness, Pw-3, Mr. Samuel Madujemu explained how discrepancies was uncovered in assets Saraki declared to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
The witness, who is the Chief Admin Officer at the CCB and the head of investigation Division under the Department of
Intelligence, Investigation and Monitoring, that joined the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to probe
Saraki’s assets, said that Saraki made his first assets declaration on September 16, 2003, upon his assumption of office.
According to him, a joint investigative team involving the CCB, Federal Ministry of Justice and the EFCC, discovered that
Saraki falsely declared his assets.
“After we discovered that there were some discrepancies, we commenced further investigations into the matter. One of the discrepancies we discovered had to do with false declaration and none declaration of some assets and some liabilities,” Madujemu said.
He said that Saraki under-declared some assets he acquired in 2006, like in the case of properties he bought in Lagos where he declared two and left out two others.
Reading from one of the assets declaration forms marked as exhibit-3, Madujemu said, “My lord what I see here is No17a and 17b Mc Donald Street Ikoyi which the defendant acquired with a bank loan in 2006.
“No 15a and 15b Mc Donald Ikoyi which he also acquired in 2006 was not included in the assets he declared”.
Saraki is said to have acquired the properties with N265m.
The witness was stopped from making more revelation by head of the defence team, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), who drew the attention of the tribunal to the amended charge against his client.
He said, “My lord I think we should at this juncture bring to your notice the fact that we were served with an amended charge this morning. You cannot proceed further in th matter until the defendant pleads to that amended charge.
“My lord the defendant is psychologically affected by this amended charge and is desirous to enter his plea. At this stage the defendant must plead to it before we proceed further on this matter. If it is not serious then the prosecution should withdraw it.”
In his response, the prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) said, “My lord amendment can be done anytime even after their own defence, before judgment is delivered.
“Moreover we are not bringing anything new. The new charge is just the old wine in a new bottle.”
While the tribunal panel said that they were yet to receive a copy of the amended charge, Justice Umar however said he was willing to stand-down the matter for one hour.
Saraki may now face an amended 18-count charge, it has been learnt.
RipplesNigeria ….without borders, without fears
- Presidency condemns Akeredolu’s quit notice to herdsmen - January 19, 2021
- FG to give N5,000 to 24.3m poor Nigerians for 6 months - January 19, 2021
- OAU announces resumption plans - January 19, 2021