dwin Tsa, Abuja
In a dramatic fashion, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, opened and closed his defence before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), in the three charges of false assets declaration filed against him by the Federal government, in one day.
His trial was sequel to the December 12, 2017 judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which restored three, out of the 18 counts earlier dismissed by the CCT, led by Danladi Umar.
When the trial resumed yesterday, Saraki, through one of his lawyers, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN) announced he had four witnesses lined up to defend him.
However, shortly after taking his first witness, Dr. Ademola Adebo, a former member of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), gave evidence and was cross-examined by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Saraki’s lawyer announced they were closing their case.
Earlier Usoro, who led Adebo in evidence, tendered his resume (Adebo) in court to prove his credibility as a witness of truth.
Although the prosecution counsel had objected to the admissibility of the document on the grounds that it was not relevant to the charges against Saraki, he was overruled by the tribunal which admitted the document as an exhibit in court.
Inside the witness box, Adebo, who introduced himself as an academic doctor reeled out his academic certificates and courses he attended and acquired.
Adebo said he was appointed CCB member in April 2010 but resumed duties April 30, 2010, and added that he was a member of the bureau dissolved by the Federal Government in June 2017.
He, however, insisted he remains a CCB commissioner since he and some of his colleagues had a pending suit challenging their removal from office.
The witness gave evidence relating to the charges against Saraki by identifying his assets declaration forms, in respect of the properties acquired at Plot 17A and 17B at McDonald’s, Ikoyi, Lagos, before the CCB.
It was his evidence that Saraki declared those properties upon assumption of office as Governor of Kwara State in 2007 and the end of his tenure in 2011.
However, discrepancies and contradictions over the source of funds used to purchase the said properties were not cleared.
For instance, in one of his assets declaration form before the tribunal, Saraki said the property at 17A and 17B were acquired through proceeds from the sale of rice and sugar commodities, while in another form, he declared that the properties were acquired with a bank loan. After his evidence, Adebo was drilled by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, who took him on under cross-examination.
Rotimi succeeded in puncturing the fact that the witness is a former commissioner with the CBB, against his earlier claim that he is still a commissioner with the Bureau.
He cited relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, particularly section 155 (c), which pronounced on the status of the witness.
Rotimi further directed questions at the witness, to prove that he did not participate in any process that led to filing of the charges against the Senate president, by the CCB.
After the cross-examination of the witness by the prosecuting counsel, Usoro made attempts to ask two re-examination questions which were objected to by Jacobs and sustained by the tribunal.
Usoro was still negotiating with the tribunal for an adjournment, when the lead defence counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN) approached Saraki, who was seated in the dock.
After returning to his seat, Agabi announced closing of the defence’s case.
Consequently, tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, fixed February 27 for adoption of addresses.