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Appeal court orders continuation of Saraki’s CCT trial

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A court of appeal sitting in Abuja has ordered Senate President Bukola Saraki to face three charges at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson, the presiding judge, gave the order on Tuesday.

She struck out 15 of the 18 count charges filed against Saraki but said Nigeria’s number three citizen has to return to the CCT for the remaining charges.
In a 70-page unanimous judgment, Akomolafe-Wilson held that there was no evidence to substantiate the 15 out of the 18 counts as valid charges.
The judge however held that on counts 4,5 and 6 bothering on the purchase of house 17 A and B at McDonald Street, Ikoyi Lagos by the senate president, the prosecution was able to establish a prima facie case against Saraki.
The appellate court held that the prosecution established that there were discrepancies in the claims on the asset declaration forms as to how the two houses in Ikoyi were acquired.

The court concluded that credible evidence was led by the prosecution on counts 4,5,6 to warrant the defendant to be called upon to defend himself on how he acquired the properties disclosed in the three counts.

Akomolafe-Wilson said from the totality of the evidence adduced at the tribunal, it was proved beyond reasonable doubt that the 15 counts knocked off were based on hearsay evidence that have no probate value.
The court held that the information supplied in the report used to prepare the charge by the federal government against Saraki did not link Saraki directly with the charges as required by law.
The appellate court held that the federal government erroneously came to the conclusion that the onus to prove the 15 charges was on Saraki whereas it is an established fact that the party that alleges must be the one to prove beyond reasonable doubt.
The court faulted the federal government on the claim that Saraki collected salaries and emoluments from Kwara state government after he had left office as the executive governor of the state adding that it was a big surprise that no single witness was invited from Kwara State to prove the allegation.

On June 14, the CCT acquitted Saraki of the 18 charges of false asset declaration and other related offences preferred against him.

Danladi Umar, chairman of the tribunal, had held that with its four witnesses and 48 documentary exhibits tendered, the prosecution failed to establish a strong case against Saraki.

Umar added that the evidence adduced by the prosecution, led by Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), was “so unreliable that no reasonable tribunal could convict” anyone based on it.

He also said the evidence of the first prosecution witness, Michael Wetkas, an operative of the EFCC, was unreliable.

Dissatisfied, the federal government headed to the court and filed an appeal against Umar’s ruling.

The charges instituted against Saraki before the CCT related to the alleged breaches of the code of conduct for public officers, acts which were said to be punishable under the Constitution and the CCB/CCT Act.

He allegedly committed the breaches by making false declaration of his assets while being the governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2007 for his first term and between 2007 and 2011 for his second term as governor and from 2011 to 2015 as a senator.

He was also said to have failed to declare to the Code of Conduct Bureau on assumption of office as governor of Kwara State in 2003, his leasehold interest in the property at 42 Remi Fani-Kayode Street, Ikeja, Lagos.

The prosecution also alleged that while being a public officer, the ex-governor operated bank accounts outside Nigeria and failed to declare the foreign accounts to the CCB while being governor and a senator during the period.

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Alhassan defects to UDP ‘with all Taraba APC excos’

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Aisha Alhassan, immediate past minister of women affairs, has joined the United Democratic Party (UDP).

Alhassan left the All Progressives Congress (APC) after she was disqualified from contesting the party’s governorship primary election.

The former minister had earlier released her resignation letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari.

In the letter, Alhassan said she had always been a loyal party member and was at no time queried or admonished for any wrongdoing.

Adams Oshiomhole, national chairman of the APC, had explained that the minister was not cleared for the primary over anti-party activities.

“She had issues that have to do with party loyalty. Our constitution is clear and it dictates that to contest elections or even hold office in the APC, you must be loyal to the party in every material concern,” he had said.

In a tweet announcing her defection to UDP, Alhassan said: “I have officially joined my next political party with 7 state assembly members, all @APCNigeria executives from 169 wards of Taraba State.

“All 16 local Government exco’s of APC. All states executives of APC, we are now in UDP.”

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Adamawa governor sued over ‘certificate forgery’

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Muhammad Jibrilla Bindow, Adamawa governor, has been sued over the alleged forgery of his West African Examination Council (WAEC) certificate.

The governor was sued by the Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN), a rights group.

According to the originating summons, the group claims that the governor did not complete his secondary education at Government Secondary School, Mangu, Plateau state.

GICN asked the court to compel WAEC to produce the governor’s certificate.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the All Progressives Congress (APC), WAEC and the police are defendants in the suit filed at the federal high court, Abuja.

The group also asked the court to determine “whether by the true interpretation of Section 177 (d) of the 1999 constitution, the first defendant (Jibrilla) is not absolutely disqualified from seeking re-election to the office on the ground that he does not possess a school certificate or its equivalent issued to him by the second defendant either in 1983 or at any time whatsoever.

“Whether the fourth defendant should not decline to present the first defendant to the third defendant to purposes of screening ahead of the forthcoming election to the office of governor of Adamawa state on the ground that he does not possess a school certificate or Its equivalent issued to him by the second defendant either in I983 or at any time whatsoever”.

GICN also requested an order directing the police to “carry out its legal duty by arresting and prosecuting the first defendant for perjury if the fifth defendant investigates and finds that first defendant neither completed his secondary education at Government Secondary School, Mangu, Plateau state in 1983 nor was issued any school certificate or its equivalent by the second defendant”.

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Hamzat steps down for Sanwo-Olu ahead of Lagos APC guber primary

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Obafemi Hamzat has withdrawn from the Lagos state governorship race.

Hamzat was a governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

While announcing his withdrawal during a press conference on Saturday, Hamzat directed his supporters to vote for Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the party’s primary on Sunday.

He said he is stepping down for Sanwo-Olu because he can vouch for his personal integrity and intelligence.

“I’ve resolved to step down and source resources together with my brother and friend, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. So, all my supporters are hereby directed to vote tomorrow for Mr. Sanwo-Olu to emerge as the governorship candidate of the APC in Lagos,” he said.

“Apart from the fact that I can vouch for his personal integrity and intelligence, Mr. Sanwo-Olu is someone I’ve had close interaction with over the years.

“We are both fortunate to have worked closely with the present vice-president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, getting the wise counsel of those I consider to be political fathers and mothers.”

Sanwo-Olu is seen as the major challenger of Akinwunmi Ambode, the incumbent governor of the state.

A former banker, he is believed to have the backing of Mandate Movement, a group loyal to Bola Tinubu, chieftain of the APC.

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