The Supreme Court on Friday ruled on the appeal filed by Nigeria’s Senate President Bukola Saraki on the alleged false assets declaration case brought against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCB).
The apex court ruled that Saraki has no case to answer in the remaining three charges proffered against him.
The five-man panel of the court led by Justice Dattijo Muhammad unanimously upheld Saraki’s appeal, and declared the evidence presented by the prosecution as hearsay.
Justice Centus Nweze who read out the lead judgement dismissing dismissing the Federal Government’s appeal, held that the Court of Appeal was wrong to have restored three out the 18 counts earlier dismissed by the CCT when it agreed that the evidence led by the prosecution was hearsay, but went ahead to isolate three of the counts as having been proved.
Quoting a part of the Court of Appeal’s judgment where it held that “the prosecution failed to call those who have direct knowledge of the facts sought to be proved, to testify”, Justice Nweze also faulted the appellant court’s turn around to restore three of the counts based on the evidence it had declared as hearsay.
According to him, this was “equivalent to judicial equivalent of a forensic somersault”.
The ruling of the apex court has put an end to a legal battle between Saraki and the Federal Government over the alleged false asset declaration.
The Federal Government had first levelled a false assets declaration charges against Saraki before the Danladi Umar led Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), which in its judgment in the matter acquitted and discharged Saraki of all the 18-count charges leveled against him.
Peeved with the judgment, the Federal Government dragged the matter to the Court of Appeal. In its ruling, the appellant court in a 70-page unanimous judgment on behalf of the three-member panel of justices of the court, and read by Justice Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson, freed Saraki of 15 out the 18-count charges the Federal Government leveled against him.
The Appeal Court therefore ordered Saraki to return to the CCT to be tried in the remaining 3-counts of the 18-count charges.
Also not satisfied with the ruling of the Court of Appeal, the Federal Government approached the Supreme Court and prayed it to nullify the ruling of the appellant court and order that Saraki return to CCT to face trial in all the 18-count charges it levelled against him.
Saraki on the other hand, ran to the apex court demanding that he be freed of all the 18-count charges as ruled by the CCT.
The judgment of the Supreme Court on the matter today (Friday) eventually favoured the Senate President, bringing the legal battle on the issue of his alleged false asset declaration to an end.