FALSE ASSET DECLARATION: Saraki Likely To Be Arraigned On Friday.
Senate President Bukola Saraki is likely to be arraigned on Friday before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for alleged false assets declaration, it was learnt yesterday.
The office of the Attorney General of the Federation has filed a 13-count charge against Saraki. The charges were endorsed by Muslim Hassan, a deputy director in the Federal Ministry of Justice.
The allegations are under Section 2 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. The offences are punishable under paragraph 9 of the fifth schedule of the Constitution.
A senior official of the ministry yesterday told our correspondent that the arraignment would go ahead, barring any last-minute change.
In the charges, dated September 11, Saraki is accused of committing, among others, offences ranging from anticipatory declaration of assets to making false declaration of assets in the forms he filed at the Code of Conduct Bureau while he was governor of Kwara State.
The Senate President sniggered at the charges when he told correspondents in Abuja that “most of them are frivolous and not true”.
He added: “I have always done my declaration. We will continue to do our job.
“There is no doubt that it is mischievous. It is not current. The issues are not true. As far as we are concerned, we are not shaking. We will focus on what we have come to do in the interest of the country?”
He also said the allegation was a reflection of the saying that each time you fight corruption, the system will fight you.
Saraki also said the allegation of inconsistencies in his assets declaration is “malicious”.
Saraki’s position is contained in a 13-point statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Sanni Onogu, in Abuja .
“Though the President of the Senate had (sic) yet to be served any court process in that respect, we feel obliged to explain to Nigerians that all the claims contained in the charge sheet are false, incorrect and untrue.
“The claims are based on outright fabrication and mischief and a politically-motivated prosecution aimed at undermining the person and office of the Senate President.
“We do not know on whose authority these charges are filed when the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act clearly indicate that any prosecution must be authorised by an Attorney-General (AG).
“We know the nation last had an AG in May 2015 and we believe that this is another clear indication that the CCT is acting under influence from outside its domain and therefore ready to bend the rules to achieve this obnoxious objective.
“It is surprising that the CCT is now referring to his (Saraki) assets declaration made in 2003 while in office as Governor of Kwara State to formulate their charges.
“They therefore ignored the recent declaration for which they last week, issued an acknowledgement.’’
The statement noted that the Code of Conduct Bureau, following its processes, ought to have carried out the verification of the assets and ascertain the claims made.
It noted that for the bureau to come up with allegations of inconsistencies 12 years later, was a clear case of witch-hunt.
The statement said Saraki was ready to meet those behind the plot in court.
“We are of the opinion that the present effort is a desperate move initiated due to external influence and interference.
“ It should also be noted that Dr Saraki, as Governor of Kwara State, never operated a foreign account.
“Also, some of the issues contained in the charge sheet are subjects of issues earlier decided on, or on-going in courts.”
Saraki said he had always kept to global standards of transparency and accountability as required and affirmed his belief in the justice system.