Kwara Must Change is pleased to bring back to the fore, the 3 criminal charges Senator Bukola Saraki must contend with at the Code of Conduct Tribunal as ordered by the Appeal Court in its recent judgement ordering the Senate President back to the CCT to enter his defense.
Justice Danladi Umar of CCT had in June 2017 dismissed all 18 count charges against Saraki for what he described as lack of evidence. However, the higher court has ordered Saraki back to CCT to enter his defense on 3 criminal charges that the appeal court said has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt with sufficient evidence.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja reversed Saraki’s acquittal of false assets declaration charges. The appellate court, in a unanimous judgment by a three-man panel, led by Justice Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson, ordered Saraki to return to the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for the continuation of his criminal trial. The appeal court held that the prosecution has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that Mr Saraki gave false asset declaration and he must be held to account on count
4, 5 and 6. The court would have held Saraki accountable for more charges, particularly on receiving multiple salaries as shown in his account statement after leaving office as governor, but the failure of
the Kwara State government to be present as witness killed that grave crime committed against the people of Kwara.
Kwara Must Change has been inundated with inquiries from the public on what the 3 charges Bukola Saraki must contend with now that his criminal trial is back in full force.
The 3 criminal charges are as follows:
1. In Count 6, Saraki is accused of making a false declaration in the Assets Declaration Form at the end of tenure as governor in 2007 and on assumption of office as executive governor in 2007 when he failed to declare his outstanding loan liabilities of N315,054,355.92 out of the loan of N380,000,000 obtained from Guaranty Trust Bank.
2. In Count 5, Saraki is also alleged to have falsified his Assets Declaration at the end of his tenure as Governor of Kwara State in 2011 and on the assumption of office as a senator in 2011 when he declared that he acquired No. 17B, McDonald, Ikoyi Lagos. The prosecution contended that the defendant falsely declared to have acquired No. 17A, McDonald, Ikoyi on 6th September 2006 from proceeds of the sale of rice and sugar.
3. In Count 4, Saraki is alleged to have falsified his Assets Declaration at the end of his tenure as Kwara State Governor in 2011 and on assumption of office as a senator in 2011 when he declared that
he acquired No. 17A, McDonald, Ikoyi, Lagos. The prosecution contended that the defendant falsely declared that he had acquired No 17A, McDonald, Ikoyi on 6th September 2006 from the proceeds ofsale of rice and sugar.
What the above means is that, Saraki is alleged to have made two false asset declarations both in 2007 after his first tenure as governor and in 2011 after completing his second tenure. The asset declaration forms he signed in 2007 after his 1st tenure and 2011 after his 2nd tenure were tendered as pieces of evidence to prove he lied and made false asset declaration.
During his first tenure as governor, Saraki took a loan of N380 million from GTB for personal purpose, but he paid back the loan with Kwara State money during his second tenure, yet he didn’t declare his outstanding liabilities after his first tenure to indicate that such loan existed. Do you remember the revelation of numerous deposits being made daily at GTB during the testimony of one of the witnesses at CCT? Yes, that is the money he used to pay back the loan. He lied about it in his declaration form, thereby making false asset declaration.
Similarly, Saraki also bought a property in Lagos during his second tenure with Kwara state resources, but after his tenure in 2011, he lied that the property was bought in 2006. The reason for lie was that he understood that should he declare the truth of the property, that is going to raise further suspicion since the amount used in buying the property is beyond his income as governor. So he lied in his declaration form after his tenure, hoping nobody saw it.
Justice Danladi Umar of the CCT had on June 14, 2017, upheld Saraki’s no-case submission and discharged and acquitted him of all the 18 charges, but the decision was appealed by the Federal Government due to public pressure. The Saraki hailing hailers thought it would take forever to get the judgement, but they are wrong, the appeal court judgement is here.
The Appeal Court, in its judgment this week, resolved four out of the five issues identified for determination in favor of the appellant. The appeal court said Danladi Umar was wrong to have held that Saraki was not invited to make a statement in the course of investigating the allegations against him. It said the Senate President made a statement in the course of the investigation, which was tendered and admitted by the tribunal as Exhibit 46.
The appellate court also faulted the CCT’s decision that the joint investigation team constituted by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the allegations against Saraki was unknown to law. It said there was no law forbidding the CCB from collaborating with other investigating agencies of government to effectively discharge its mandate.
The court also faulted the tribunal for holding that the prosecution failed to prove its case by not tendering the original copies of Saraki’s assets declaration forms and his statement. It said the certified true copies (CTC) of the forms and statements were sufficient under the law to be admitted as exhibits in favor of the prosecution.
On whether the tribunal was right to have upheld Saraki’s no-case submission, the appellate court resolved the issue against Saraki. After a thorough analysis of the evidence led by the prosecution, the appellate court said the prosecution led credible and direct evidence in respect of three counts – 4, 5 and 6 and Saraki must provide a defense of he faces sanction.
Kwara Must Change shall be following the case with keen interest.