Alleged False Asset Declaration: Court Halts Saraki’s Trial

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has summoned the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to appear before it on September 21, 2015 to show cause why it should not be restrained from arraigning Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, over allegations bordering on false and improper declaration of assets allegedly acquired during his tenure as Governor of Kwara State from 2003-2011.

The Senate President, who approached the court via an ex parte motion wants the Federal Ministry of Justice, Code of Conduct Bureau, Code of Conduct Tribunal and Barrister M. S Hassan stopped from taking any further step to arraign or prefer any charge against him, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit he filed before the court.

The court order was followed an ex-parte motion which was filed and moved in chamber, yesterday, by Saraki’s lawyer, Mr. Mahmud Magaji, SAN.

Already, Saraki has lined up a consortium of 12 senior lawyers, including three Senior Advocates of Nigeria, to represent him before the court. His legal team is  led by a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. J.B. Daudu, SAN.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed, in a ruling in his chambers ordered the Federal Ministry of Justice, Chairmen of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal and M. S Hassan (1st to 4th respondent) to appear before him to show cause why they should not be stopped from arraigning Saraki.

In his ruling, Justice Mohammed held thus: “An order is hereby made directing the Respondents to appear before this court on Monday, September 21, 2015, and show cause why the motion for an order of injunction being sought by the plaintiff/applicant should not be made by the court.

Senator Saraki is also praying the court to declare that the Ministry of Justice has not complied with the provision of the 3rd Schedule of Section 24(1) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act to act before proffering a charge against him.

The Senate President, in his motion, argued that since there is no subsisting AGF, the charge against him by the official of the Federal Ministry of Justice before the CCT is void.

Saraki argued through his lawyer  that going by a 1985 decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Attorney-General of Kaduna vs Hassan, recorded in Part 8 of the Nigeria Weekly Law Report, NWLR, the Solicitor-General of the Federation cannot exercise the powers of the Attorney-General of the Federation.

He also argued that “That the charge pending before the CCT is predicated upon the falsehood that the plaintiff/applicant did not declare his assets in 2003, 2006 and 2011.

He said that he filled his asset declaration form in 2007, 2011 and 2015, saying “the present charge was initiated by external influence and undue interference on the CCT”.

He told the court that the CCB never wrote to him to complain of any inconsistency in his asset declaration form.

Saraki maintained that the charge was “purely a malicious and politically-motivated prosecution aimed at undermining the person and office of the Senate President.

“That it is a fact that this charge pending before the CCT is a case of desperation to intimidate the applicant due to his recent stance on national issues.

The President of the Senate is alleged to have falsely declared his assets, contrary to constitutionally requirement.

He was accused of deliberately manipulating the assets declaration form that he filed prior to his assumption of office as the Senate President, by making anticipatory declaration of assets.

He was alleged to have made false declarations 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.

Similarly, 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.

Other charges against him include an allegation that he owned and operated foreign bank accounts while being a public officer.

The offence was said to have been committed while Saraki held sway as a governor of Kwara State.

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