UPDATED: Saraki Docked, Pleads Not Guilty To 13-Count Charge
Senate president Bukola Saraki has finally entered the dock at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and pleads not guilty to a 13-count charge of corruption and false declaration of assets.
The senate president has initially refused to enter the dock following arguments by his lawyer, JB Daudu.
Joseph Daodu (SAN), Saraki’s counsel, tried to stop the “marching” of the senate president into the accused box raising objection over jurisdiction of the tribunal to proceed.
Daodu argued that the trial of his client was not criminal in nature, adding that it was not in the jurisdiction of the tribunal to try criminal cases. He further said that the tribunal did not have the power to punish offenders for corruption or issue bench warrants.
Daodu also raised objection to the referral of Saraki as an “accused person”, insisting that he should be alled a “defendant,” because his alleged offences were not criminal in complexion. ?
Rotimi Jacobs, prosecuting counsel, countered his argument by stating that the tribunal had the jurisdiction to try criminal offences, and urged it to order Saraki to enter? the accused box to make his plea. But Danladi Umar, chairman of the CCT, ruled that tribunal had jurisdiction over criminal matters and ordered the senate president to step into the accused box. Saraki, afterwards, stepped into the box, where he sat down to make his plea.
On his part, the Senate President who broke protocol to make a personal statement while in the box, said he was at the tribunal as the senate president to subject himself to the law, emphasising that the 2001 Act of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) mandated it to inform a public officer of a breach of the code of conduct rules first before taking the matter to the CCT.
Saraki said he was neither informed nor notified that he had supposedly breached the rules by the CCB, but only learnt of it later when the matter came before the tribunal.
He also implied that he was on trial for political reasons. His submission earned him a thunderous applause from his supporters in court.
When the 13-count were read to the Senate President, he pleaded not guilty to the charges.