An advocacy group, Kwara Must Change (KMC), has expressed delight at the decision of the Court of Appeal to order the Senate President, Mr. Bukola Saraki, back to the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to face enter his criminal charges of false asset declaration. The position of the group was made known in a statement signed by Mr. Abdulrazaq O. Hamzat.
The group stated that the people of Kwara State are convinced that the undeclared assets were bought with funds looted from the state when Mr. Saraki was governor. The group added that it is looking forward to a diligent prosecution of the three charges filed against Mr. Saraki and a return of the properties to the state.
The group recalled that when the Justice Danladi Umar-led CCT upheld the no case submission of Mr Saraki and dismissed the 18-count charge months ago, it was among groups that urged the Federal Government to appeal the judgement in the interest of justice, which it did.
"After the notice of appeal was filed, Mr Saraki claimed at the time that the appeal was a futile effort against him since he believed he had successfully bought his way out. However, with the judgement of the Appeal Court which ordered the defendant back to the CCT to enter his defense on three criminal charges bordering on false asset declaration, Kwara Must Change has been vindicated," the group said. It stated that Mr. Saraki should seize the Court of Appeal decision to defend himself. KMC was, however, unimpressed that the Court of Appeal did not find merit in the account statement of Mr. Saraki, which it said clearly showed that he continued to receive salaries for more than four years after leaving office as governor.
"To dismiss this weighty allegation simply because the Kwara State government failed to stand as a witness is to us very unfortunate. We make bold to say that those following the trend of events in Kwara State are not in doubt that whatever atrocity the Senate President is alleged to have committed were done with the active support of the Kwara State government, which makes it an accomplice to the crime," KMC lamented.
It equally claimed that the Kwara State government footed Mr. Saraki's legal bills, including the hiring of 90 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) during the CCT first trial. The group advised the Kwara State governor, Mr.Abdulfattah Ahmed, to desist from using state funds for the defence of Mr. Saraki.
"Let it be known that Kwarans are not giving up hope for justice. Even though we know there are bad eggs in the judiciary, who give judgement in return for cash as recently proven by relevant agencies, including National Bureau of Statistics, we still believe there are men of integrity in the judiciary who will uphold justice at all costs. We are, therefore, hopeful that irrespective of the attempted manipulation of the judiciary to subvert justice in favor of the accused, justice
shall eventually prevail," KMC concluded.