Embattled Nigerian Senate presidentBukola Saraki who was re-arraigned today for false assets declaration has told the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) that he is closing his defence on the corruption and false declaration of assets brought against him after presenting a single witness.
The defence counsel, Kanu Agabi told the tribunal on Tuesday in Abuja at the resumed hearing of the case after the cross-examination and counter examination of the defence witness, Ademola Adebo.
Agabi had earlier told the court that he had four witnesses.
Saraki witness who claimed that he was a commissioner in the Code of Conduct Burea said that the bureau constituted a committee and made him the chairman to review the asset declaration forms "CCB 1" and make it more friendly and less cumbersome for clearance.
"Part of my assignment is to digitalise the form and create asset declaration portal . The forms has been reviewed and the portal has been created but is yet to take off. I supervised the administration and signed more than 300, 000 forms " Adebo stated.
Saraki who was wearing white babariga arrived the court in the company of some senators who were in solidarity. He entered the dock at 11: 10 am.
The Chairman of the tribunal, Danladi Umar had blamed the delay in the commencement of the proceedings on the some of the counsels who have other cases in another court. He, therefore, warned the counsels to desist from such attitude adding that he would no longer wait for any counsel who did not arrive the court as scheduled. Justice Umar made reference to recent charges of bribery slammed on him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Today proceedings started with defense counsel Paul Usoro saying that they are in court in pursuant to hearing notice in relation to count 4, 5 and 6 noting that they have brought their witnesses.
The defence witness was Ademola Adebo who claimed that he was a member of Code of Conduct Bureau ( CCB ) entered the witness box. He told the tribunal that he was appointed into the bureau in April 2010 and resumed work on April 30th 2010.
The witness said he was disengaged from the service in June 2017 contrary to his letter of appointment and claimed he has challenged his unlawful removal at the National Industrial Court where the matter is pending.
After a long narration, the witness took the tribunal through his long Curriculum Vitae of how he got his Bachelor Degree in Sociology and Political Science and other professional qualifications. His long profile and education background bored the court, therefore, making the audience to be grumbling.
When the copy of the CV was handed over to the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, he said that the document was not relevant to the charges, that the document is only relevant if they can push for relevant and non-relevant issues according to the section 1 of "Evidence Act" and they are not directly connected to the issue. He noted that the document cannot be admissible as exhibit adding that it is meant to show the ego of the witness.
The defence counsel Usoro faulted the position of prosecution on the document saying that his objection is misconceived adding that the document is to test the credibility and experience of the witness in the field that establishes his fact and competence.
On the issue of charge the prosecution told the court that the further amended charge has replaced both the charge and amended charge but his position did not go down well with the lead defence counsel, Kanu Agabi as he maintained that they are ready to defend all the charges, amended charge and further amended charges adding that they are speculative.
After the cross-examination of the witness , the chairman of the tribunal, therefore, announced a short break.
Recall that the appellate court held that the Senate president needs to provide an answer to the discrepancies established by the prosecution that the property located at No 17A and B Mac Donald Street Ikoyi Lagos he claimed were bought from the proceeds of rice and sugar were bought by loan facilities from commercial banks.
The case has been adjourned until February 27th for the defence to address the court on the adoption of their final submission and written address.
Saraki had earlier in the day on twitter excoriated the EFCC for filing bribery charges against the tribunal chairman for bribery. The tweets were at variance with his position earlier in the trial where he'd insisted that Mr. Umar was not morally and legally competent to try him for corruption because of the bribery case hanging over his person.
SaharaReporters had revealed that in order for Saraki to get discharged and acquitted by Justice Umar, he paid a bribe of $2million in a deal brokered by a former Governor of Bauchi state, Isa Yuguda.
Security sources told SaharaReporters that they have trailed Justice Umar in recent weeks and found that he had a fresh deal with Saraki to deliver a fresh judgment acquiting him in the fresh charges. The new deal of acquittal will render a pending case at Supreme Court a mere academic exercise if Umar is allowed to carry through with his most recent deal with Mr. Saraki.