Assets Falsification: Supreme Court Clears Saraki
The Supreme Court, on Friday, dismissed the assets falsification charge the Federal Government brought against Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.
In a unanimous decision by a five-man panel of Justices, the Supreme Court vacated the Court of Appeal judgment in which Saraki was ordered to enter his defence to three out of the 18-count corruption charges FG entered against him. The court victory has caused a stir of joy at the Senate with pro-Saraki senators brimming with confidence.
“This is the beginning of more victories and a warning to some people that democracy is at work in Nigeria”, a pro0Saraki senator was overhead amid wild jubilation and patting on the back.
The apex court relied on section 302 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, to give an all clear to the Senate President in all the allegations preferred against him. Justices of the apex court held that the Court of Appeal committed “judicial equivalent of forensic somersault” by ordering the appellant to open his defence to the criminal charge, even after it noted that all material evidence the prosecution adduced before the CCT amounted to hearsay evidence.
Justice Centus Nweze delivered the lead judgment. He wondered why the lower court, having held that totality of the proof of evidence were inadmissible, turned round to order the appellant to defend three counts in the charge, based on the same evidence.
According to the Supreme court, the federal government could not have established a prima-facie case against the appellant on the basis of hearsay and inadmissible proof of evidence. Besides, the apex court panel held that the lower court was right when it observed that FG failed to produce witnesses that had direct knowledge of facts of the case.
“When evidence lacks probative value, it cannot be relied upon”, the court held.
It will be recalled that a three-man panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson, dismissed 15 counts of the charge on the premise that they were not supported with credible evidence capable of warranting the Respondent (Saraki) to be called upon to enter his defence to them.