The Supreme Court on Friday finally laid to rest the trial of a Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on assets declaration and sundry charges instituted against him before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
five-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Dattijo Muhammad
unanimously upheld Saraki’s appeal, by dismissing the remnant three
counts, declaring the evidence led by the prosecution as hearsay.
Danladi Umar-led CCT had, in June last year, terminated the trial upon
an application by Saraki, by dismissing the entire 18 counts preferred
against the Senate President.
The CCT’s decision was based on the
grounds that the prosecution, with its four witnesses and 49 exhibits
tendered, only led hearsay evidence which could not be the basis to link
Saraki to the 18 counts preferred against him.
Court of Appeal in Abuja ruling on December 12, 2017, in an appeal filed
by the Federal Government against the decision of the CCT, restored
three out of the dismissed 18 counts and ordered Saraki to return to the
CCT to defend the three charges.
While Saraki had appealed to
the Supreme Court against the part of the Court of Appeal’s decision
restoring three of the 18 counts, the Federal Government had
cross-appealed against the part of the decision affirming the tribunal’s
dismissal of the rest of the 15 counts.
However, in its lead
judgment on Friday, Justice Centus Nweze upheld Saraki’s appeal and
dismissed the Federal Government’s appeal.
Justice Nweze agreed with the CCT that the evidence led by the prosecution at the tribunal was entirely hearsay.
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.
Justice Nweze quoted 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”.
Faulting the Court of Appeal’s turn around
to restore three of the counts based on the evidence it had declared as
hearsay, Justice Nweze said was “equivalent to judicial equivalent of a