Senate President Saraki Loses Again As Appeal Court Dismisses Suit Against His Corruption Trial At The Code Of Conduct Tribunal

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A five-man panel of the Court of Appeal in Abuja has
dashed the hopes of Senate President Bukola Saraki of evading the
corruption trial initiated by the Federal Government for the alleged
false declaration of assets.

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja today struck out the application
filed by the embattled Senate President challenging the jurisdiction of
the at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to entertain the charges
against him.

In a unanimous decision which was read by Justice Abdul Aboki who led
the five-man panel ruled that the appeal is unmeritorious and was then
entirely dismissed.

The court resolved all the nine grounds of appeal against Saraki and
affirmed the power of the tribunal to entertain and try him for the
charges brought against him.

With the court ruling, Justice Abdul Aboki ruling on Thursday meant
that the trial of the Senate President would continue at the Code of
Conduct Tribunal, where he is facing a 16-count charge of corruption and
false assets declaration.

Recently, Justice Danladi Umar, CCT Chairman, also refused to
disqualify himself from Mr. Saraki’s trial. The Senate President and his
lawyers had demanded that Justice Umar disqualifies from the case based
on allegations that he harbors anti-Saraki sentiments.
With Thursday’s ruling,
the CCT, which resumes Saraki’s trial on 7 and 8 November can complete
the trial, which has been stalled by a combination of annual court
vacation and the Senate President’s deployment of technicalities to its
progress. The trial commenced in September 2015.
Saraki’s lawyer
and former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Kanu Agabi,
had approached the Court of Appeal citing 9 grounds of appeal and
seeking an order of the court to halt Mr. Saraki’s trial pending the
completion of the appeal. But the judges’ panel promptly turned down the
request, forcing the defense to withdraw the motion to put the trial in
abeyance,  the court then asked the legal team to focus on their appeal
while the trial at the CCT continues.
On 6 October, the judges
reserved their judgment and promised to notify the litigants and fixed
the judgment for Thursday, a Court of Appeal source told
SaharaReporters on Wednesday.
Mr. Saraki is facing trial for
falsely declaring his assets to the Code of Conduct of Bureau while he
was governor of Kwara State. During the trial, it also emerged that the
Senate President declared assets that he did not own in anticipation of
procuring those with the proceeds of corruption. It also emerged that
several years after leaving office as governor, Mr. Saraki continues to
draw his full salary as a governor while simultaneously getting paid by
the Federal Government as a senator.
SaharaReporters sources
stated that the Senate President, who is currently in Geneva,
Switzerland, had met with members of President Muhammad Buhari
administration to seek their support against the plan to drive him out
of the Senate Presidency. This resulted in the withdrawal of forgery
charges against him and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu. 

 President Buhari is reportedly uncomfortable with interfering with
Saraki’s trial at the CCT, but a group close to the President is said to
be pushing for a lenient outcome for Mr. Saraki at the CCT.

 It is not yet clear if the CCT will deliver on a full trial and dish
out punishments commensurate with the gravity of Saraki’s offenses.

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