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Alleged false declaration of assets: CCT shifts Saraki's trial to March 11

By The Citizen

The Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, sitting in Abuja, has shifted the trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on the 13-count corruption charge filed against him by the Federal Government to March 11.

The Justice Danladi Umar-led tribunal, which initially gave Federal Government the nod to open its case against Saraki on March 10, deferred the proceeding by a day, following a letter from his new lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN.

A statement by the Head of Press and Public Relations at the CCT, Mr. Ibraheem Al-Hassan, revealed that Agabi had in a letter dated February 26, pleaded for an adjournment on the ground that he had other cases fixed for March 10.

Al-Hassan quoted Agabi's letter as stating:  'I write as lead counsel to the above defendant to apply that the matter which is now scheduled to come up on the 10th day of March 2016, subject to the convenience of the honourable tribunal and learned counsel for the prosecution, be taken on the 11th day of March, 2016, due to my earlier and urgent commitments in other courts on the 10th.

'I will sincerely appreciate the indulgence of the tribunal to accommodate me in this way.'

The Supreme Court had on February 5 okayed Saraki for trial over allegations that he falsely declared his assets.''

In a unanimous judgment, a seven-man panel of Justices of the apex court headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN,   Justice Mahmud Mohammed, held that the Senate President had a case to answer before the CCT.

The apex court, while dismissing the appeal that Saraki lodged to stop his trial, affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal in Abuja which held that the CCT panel was validly constituted to hear and determine the charge against him.

Saraki, who was a two-term governor of Kwara State between May 2003 and May 2011, was in the charge before the CCT, marked ABT/01/15 and dated September 11, 2015, accused of  breaching section 2 of the  CCB and Tribunal Act, an offence punishable under section 23(2) of the Act and paragraph 9 of the said Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

Aside allegation that he falsely declared his assets, as well as, made anticipatory declaration of assets, Saraki, was also alleged to have operated foreign bank accounts while in office as a public officer. He was alleged to have acquired assets beyond his legitimate earnings.

FG, among other offences, alleged that Saraki, claimed that he owned and acquired No 15A and 15B Mc Donald, Ikoyi, Lagos, through his company, Carlisle Properties Limited in 2000, when the said property was actually sold by the Implementation Committee of the Federal Government landed properties in 2006 to his companies, Tiny Tee Limited and Vitti Oil Limited for the aggregate sum of N396, 150, 000, 00.

He was alleged to have made false declaration on or about June 3, 2011, by refusing to declare plot  2A Glover Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, which he acquired between 2007 and 2008 through his company from the Central Bank of Nigeria for a total sum of N325, 000, 000, 00.

Saraki was said to have refused to declare No1 Tagnus Street, Maitama, Abuja, which he claimed to have acquired in November 1996 from one David Baba Akawu.

Some of his alleged offence while in office as governor, which are said to be punishable under section 15(1) and (2) of the CCB and Tribunal Act, Cap C15, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, were allegedly committed between October 2006 and May 2007.

His actions were classified as a gross violation of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended.

Saraki had on September 22, 2015, pleaded not guilty to the charge which he said was grossly incompetent and ought to be quashed. Vanguard