*You have three charges to clear there
*We shall appeal to the Supreme Court
By Sandra Onyekwere
Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has sent Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Senate President, back to the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to answer to three counts of false assets declaration brought against him by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
A three-man panel led by Justice Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson gave the ruling on Tuesday, saying the EFCC had done enough to prove the three charges beyond reasonable doubt.
However, the court struck out the other charges against him.
In September 2015, Saraki was charged with a 13-count charge bothering on false assets declaration and operating foreign accounts while still a public officer — offences he allegedly committed during his tenure as Governor of Kwara State.
He denied the allegations and initially refused to appear in court, saying the charges were politically motivated as a result of the internal rift within the APC prior to his emergence as Senate President.
However, Danladi Umar, Chairman of the CCT, issued an arrest warrant against Saraki, forcing him to eventually attend the next hearing.
After series of drama, including numerous adjournments and a Supreme Court judgement ordering a temporary suspension of the trial, Saraki was arraigned in February 2016 and he pleaded not guilty to the charges, which, at the time, had been amended again to 16 counts. It would later be further amended to 18.
Saraki remains in political history as the first high profile serving Nigerian political office holder to be docked in any court of the land.
During the trial, the prosecution team called witnesses and presented documents that showed that Saraki operated several foreign bank accounts while he was Governor of Kwara State, contrary to the provisions of the law.
After the prosecution had closed its case, Saraki’s counsel, Kanu Agabi (SAN), a former Attorney General of the Federation, filed a no-case submission, arguing that the prosecution had not done enough to establish a prima facie case against his client.
This application was upheld by Umar, the CCT Chairman, who discharged and acquitted Saraki of the 18-count charge against him.
However, the Federal Government went to the Court of Appeal to challenge the judgement of the CCT and on Tuesday, the court struck out 15 out of the charges, but said the FG had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Saraki had a case to answer on three of the charges.
Meanwhile, a statement by issued by Saraki’s media office said he would challenge the Appeal Court judgement to the Supreme Court.