CCT fixes March 8 for final address adoption in FG’s false assets declaration charge against Saraki
The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday fixed March 8, 2018, for the adoption of final addresses in the false assets declaration charges slammed against Senate President Bukola Saraki by the Federal Government.
Although the adoption was slated for yesterday, it was however adjourned to March 8 by the Chairman of the two-member panel of the Tribunal, Danladi Yakubu Umar following claims by Saraki’s lead counsel, Kanu Agabi (SAN) that he was served with the final brief of argument by the prosecution on Monday, February 26 after work.
Agabi pleaded with the tribunal to adjourn the matter to a new date to enable him to study and respond to the brief of argument served on him late by the prosecution.
Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), prosecuting the Senate President on behalf of the Federal Government, admitted that his brief was served late, but blamed the defence for the lateness on the grounds that their own brief of argument was served on him after seven days ordered by the tribunal.
Jacobs told the tribunal that because the defence filed their brief of argument out of time, the settlement of his own brief was affected.
Having listened to both sides, the tribunal chairman subsequently adjourned the matter till March 8, 2018, for the adoption of final, written addresses by parties in the matter.
Umar also said that after the formal adoption of the written addresses, the tribunal will take a date for judgment in the trial which commenced since 2015 when Saraki emerged as Senate President.
Saraki, who is standing trial on allegations of false assets declaration brought against him by the Federal Government at the CCT, had on February 6, 2018, closed his defence after calling one witness, Dr Ademola Adebo from the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) who testified in his favour.
Although, Saraki, through his counsel, Mr Paul Usoro SAN had at the commencement of proceedings on that day told the Tribunal that he has lined up four witnesses to testify for Saraki, but however, made a U-turn when the legal team decided to limit themselves to the first witness.
Shortly after the lone defence witness was cross-examined by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), the tribunal Chairman asked parties for direction in the further proceedings.
Agabi, lead counsel to Saraki conferred with his client in the box and at the end of the conversation, announced that the defence would no longer call the remaining three witnesses and consequently applied for an adjournment to enable parties to adopt their final written addresses.
Chairman of the tribunal then adjourned the matter till February 27, 2018, for the adoption of addresses, which could not hold due to the request for adjournment by the lead defence counsel.
Although Saraki was arraigned in 2015 on the 18-count charge, the tribunal had on June 13, 2017, discharged and acquitted Saraki in a ruling on a no case submission on the ground that the charges against the Senate President were based on hearsay that cannot be supported with laws.
However, the Court of Appeal on December 12, 2017, in a judgment on an appeal filed by the Federal government nullified 15 of the charges and ordered the Senate President to respond to only three counts, prompting Saraki to return to the CCT.
With this development, the two parties would on March 8, 2018, address the tribunal on the contentious issues, in their written addresses, after which the Tribunal will fix a date for judgment.