Home News Charges against Saraki Unknown to Code of Conduct Bureau

Charges against Saraki Unknown to Code of Conduct Bureau

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By Ibidapo Balogun in Abuja
It emerged at the weekend that the13-count charges bordering on false and improper declaration of assets levelled against Senate President Bukola Saraki were prepared at the Ministry of Justice and unknown to the Code of Conduct Bureau, which is allegedly prosecuting Saraki.
Authoritative sources at the Ministry of Justice said the charges were written at the ministry and that the name of CCB was just being used in the prosecution.
“Most of the commissioners on the board of CCB did not know of the prosecution. They only read of it online and on the pages of newspapers,” the source said.
He said the trial of the Senate President is politically-motivated, adding that it was akin to the way and manner similar charges were preferred against former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who was at a time accused of operating a foreign account while in office as governor.
The Code of Conduct Bureau had dragged the Senate President to the Code of Conduct Tribunal over allegations of false declaration of assets when he was Kwara State governor.
In a 13-count charge filed by the federal government, it was alleged that Saraki declared assets he had not purchased as at the time of filling the assets declaration form, a practice known as anticipatory declaration.
But Saraki in his reaction utterly denied the allegations, adding that he was yet to be served any tribunal process. He later headed for the Federal High Court in Abuja to challenge the suit.
The court summoned the Code of Conduct Bureau to appear before it on Monday September 21, to show cause why it should not be restrained from arraigning the Senate President over the allegations.
Saraki had approached the court via an ex-parte motion and wanted the Federal Ministry of Justice, CCB and the Tribunal and Mr. M.S. Hanson stopped from taking any further step to arraign or prefer any charge against him, pending the hearing and determination of the suit he filed before the court.
The Senate President had prayed the court to declare that the Ministry of Justice had not complied with the provision of the 3rd Schedule of Section 24 (1) of the CCB and Tribunal Act to act before proffering a charge against him.
Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed in a ruling in his chambers ordered the Federal Ministry of Justice, Chairmen CCB and Tribunal and M.S. Hassan (first to fourth respondents) to appear before him on Monday to show cause why they should not be stopped from arraigning Saraki.
Meanwhile, the Tribunal had earlier fixed Friday September 18 for Saraki’s arraignment.
The Tribunal went ahead with the sitting, but the Senate President did not appear before the Tribunal, following which the tribunal ordered his arrest.
In a ruling, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, approved the request of Mr. M. Hassan, counsel to the FG, seeking a bench warrant against Saraki for not showing up in court in his 13-count trial.
The Tribunal ordered the Inspector General of Police and other security agencies to arrest the embattled Senate President and bring him to court on Monday.
Though Saraki was not in court at Friday’s session, he was represented by a team of lawyers led by a former President of the Bar association, Mr. Joseph Daudu.
Saraki had come under attack since he emerged Senate President in June, in defiance of the plan of his governing All Progressives Congress (APC) which favoured Senator Ahmed from Yobe State.
Meanwhile, tension has gripped the ancient Ilorin, Kwara State capital, over the move by the Code of Conduct Tribunal to arrest Saraki.
 
As soon as the news broke, residents of Ilorin began expressing concern over the development trailing the emergence of Saraki as Senate President.
 
The state’s civil servants were seen in groups discussing the issue.
 
At the Ilorin GRA home of Senate President, some of his domestic staffs were also seen discussing the issue.
 
Special prayers were conducted for Saraki at various mosques in the town over his current travails. The Muslim faithful were praying to God to intervene on the issue.
 
Also, a political group in the state, Maja Elders Forum (MEF), has called for prompt intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari in the matter. 

In a statement issued in Ilorin at the weekend and signed by the MEF coordinator, Alhaji Kayode Yusuf, the group said the alleged witch-hunting of Senator Saraki since his emergence as Senate President a few months ago should be halted in the interest of peace in the polity.

The MEF had appealed to the Northern Union (NU) and Middle Belt Forum (MBF), the two bodies, Saraki’s father and former Senate Leader, Dr. Olusola Saraki, had brought into prominence in the nation’s socio political landscape to meddle in the “persecution of Bukola Saraki’s family.”

Entitled ‘Save Bukola Saraki’s Life: a Passionate Appeal to President Buhari,’ the group believed that the recent invitation of Saraki’s wife Oluwatoyin by the EFCC and his attempted prosecution by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) could not be divorced from the rising political profile of the former Governor of Kwara.

In the six paragraphs statement, the group said: “We want to use this forum to appreciate God for the life of our political leader here in Kwara Dr Bukola Saraki. Besides, we are grateful for the emergence of our visionary President Muhammadu Buhari who we massively voted for here in Kwara on the instruction of our leader.

“But we are taken aback by the recent developments in the nation’s political circle where Saraki seems to be the only politician that should be investigated by the anti graft agencies in Nigeria. We are not opposed to anti corruption crusades of President Buhari but what we don’t understand is that why should the search light be beamed only on our leader to the exclusion of others?

“We want Mr. President to use his good offices to call the operators of these anti graft bodies to order in the interest of peace. Saraki was not the first Senate Leader and would not be the last in Nigerian history. They should not send him to his early graves. His father played well his role not only in Kwaran politics but that of the whole nation. 

“He (Saraki’s father) founded the NU and played active parts in stabilising the MBF during his years here on earth. We should not bring down the shining light in Nigerian politics just because someone does not want to see his face. President Buhari should not keep mute on Saraki’s unjust persecution.”

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