CCT Trial: Saraki Closes Defence After One Witness

THE Senate President Bukola Saraki has closed its defence on his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over his alleged false assets declaration.

This is after his witness Dr. Ademola Adebo, testified.

Saraki, through his counsel, Paul Usoro (SAN), had informed the tribunal at the commencement of proceedings that he had four witnesses to testify in his favour but it was not clear why he changed his mind after the first witness had testified.

Ademola, an ex-commissioner with the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), told the court that he was familiar with assets’ declaration process.

He said at a time, he was engaged by CCB to simplify the CCB Assets Declaration Form and also created a portal so that public officers will not have to visit CCB to declare asset.

The witness identified some asset declaration forms filed by Saraki at the commencement and conclusion of his tenure as Kwara State Governor in 2007 and 2011, when he became a senator.

Usoro led the witness to read from the forms where Saraki declared that he acquired Nos: 17A and 17B Macdonald, Ikoyi through sale of rice and sugar commodities.

In another form, the witness read where Saraki also said he bought the same houses through bank loan from GTB.

The witness was also cross-examined by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN).

When asked to confirm if he was still a member of the CCB, the witness said the issue, relating to the dissolution of the board to which he belonged, was a subject of litigation in court.

When given copies of the asset declaration forms completed by Saraki and was asked to identify his signature or name, the witness said he did not sign any of Saraki’s forms.

The witness said he could not recall any other ex-governor that was charged before the tribunal beside a former Lagos State governor.

Ademola told the tribunal that there was no contradictions in Saraki’s Assets Declaration Form as regards charges four, five and six, for which the Court of Appeal asked Saraki to return to the tribunal to give explanation.

When Jacobs indicated that he was through with the witness, Usoro attempted to ask the witness further questions.

The CCT Chairman rejected the attempt, upon an objection by Jacobs on the grounds that the questions do not relate to issue that emanated during cross-examination.

At that point, the CCT Chairman asked parties to agree on the next date. But, while Usoro, Jacobs and the tribunal’s Registrar were trying to agree on a date, Saraki, who sat in the dock, signalled to the leader of his legal team, Kanu Agabi (SAN), who promptly approached him.

Saraki conferred briefly with Agbabi, shortly after which the lawyer informed the tribunal that the defence has made up its mind to close its case.

The announcement came as a surprise to all.

The CCT Chairman later adjourned to February 27 for the adoption of parties’ final written address.