Senate President, Bukola Saraki
- 25 Senators, Ekweremadu, Ben Bruce, Wamaka show solidarity
Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Senate President, Olubukola Saraki, after an unsuccessful attempt to challenge the jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to put him under criminal trial, began his defence against the 13-count false asset declaration charge.
Prosecution counsel led by Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) briefed the tribunal how the accused person, while in office as the executive governor of Kwara State, filled four different assets declaration forms with the first one in 2003, the second in 2007, third also in 2007 while the fourth was filled in 2011 when he left office as a governor.
Jacobs also alleged that the Senate President made anticipatory assets declaration including two houses allegedly sold to him by the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai.
THISDAY gathered that El-Rufai had allegedly provided the receipts and documents, which indicated that Saraki purchased those buildings from him anticipatorily. Rotimi further said that the Senate President in some cases failed to declare others acquired while he was the governor.At the resumed hearing on Ti\uesday, Saraki faulted the tribunal on the alleged falsification of asset criminal charges brought against him by the Federal and as well denied the 13-count charges against him.
The Senate President who came in the company of other Senators including the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, used his arraignment to open up, to express shock with the issues being raised against him because he was seeing them for the first time in his life.He told the CCT that he was being brought for trial because of his new status as Senate President. He said he has come to honour the invitation on his own volition as a law abiding citizens who believe in the rule of law, adding that he has nothing to hide.He said: “I am one of the strongest believers in the rule of law. I am a law abiding citizen and my faith in the judiciary remains unshaken but when trial is being instigated outside the purview of normal procedure then the tribunal must watch it and must be on the side of justice."The Chairman, I am happy that the Senate ruled in Section 3(d) that if there is a breach of the conduct the accused will be called to verify if such properties belongs to the accused before he will be brought for trial.""We are all here and the whole world is watching when we said we are in new Nigeria. I want to state here that I am not guilty."Shortly after the first of the 13-count charges was read to him, Saraki denied them in their entirety when his plea was taken and was allowed home on bail without any condition.However, the accused informed the tribunal that those putting him on trial, specifically the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) even violated its own law with its deliberate refusal to first invite him (Saraki) for clarifications in the discrepancies in his assets declaration forms as provided for under section 6 of the CCB Act 2004.
He asked the tribunal to act in the best interest of Justice and not in favour of external forces that were out to fight him on vendetta.