|Sen. Bukola Saraki|
The Federal Government is set to transmit to the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, over 3,000 pages of the records of the 21 months trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.
The transmission of records of the trial to the Court of Appeal is a legal requirement for the Federal Government to validate its notice of appeal filed against the CCT’s judgment, which recently discharged and acquitted Saraki of all the 18 charges of false assets declaration.
According to legal experts, the Court of Appeal only assigns an appeal number to a case after receiving the “records of appeal” transmitted to it from the lower court.
The records transmission will set the stage for exchange of briefs between the parties involved in the case before a date for hearing of the appeal can be fixed by the Court of Appeal.
Ahead of the records transmission, which our correspondent gathered would likely take place this week, it was learnt that the legal team of the Federal Government and Saraki’s lawyers had, last week, participated in a “settlement of records” exercise.
During the records settlement exercise, the two parties agreed on the records of the trial before the CCT that would be sent to the Court of Appeal.
Our correspondent learnt from credible sources involved in the case that the document, which the appellant (the Federal Government) and the respondent (Saraki) settled on, were over 3,000 pages.
SUNDAY PUNCH also gathered that neither of the parties is foreclosed from seeking additional documents to be transmitted along with the already settled documents.
The record of the proceedings, which started in September 2015 and ended on June 14, 2016, when the Danladi Umar-led CCT dismissed the 18 counts preferred against Saraki, was said to have formed the bulk of the documents to be transferred to the Court of Appeal.
The documents agreed upon by parties to the appeal for transmission to the Court of Appeal were said to include the application to prefer charge; the first (original) charge; the amended charge; and the further amended charge.
The records also comprised Saraki’s motion on notice dated March 4, 2016, which sought the dismissal of the case on among other grounds that he was not invited to make a statement before he was charged.
Also to be included in the file are, prosecution’s counter-affidavit to the said motion; the prosecution’s further counter-affidavit to the said motion; the defendant’s further affidavit to the motion and a copy of the CCT’s delivered on March 24, 2016 dismissing the motion, among others.
Our correspondent learnt that the parties would return to the CCT within the week for the “compilation of records” during which they would both witness the sorting out of the various documents and include them in file to be transferred to the Court of Appeal.
After the records compilation, the file would be sent for transmission to the Court of Appeal.
The Head, Press and Public Relations of the CCT, Mr. Ibraheem Al-Hassan, confirmed that the records settlement took place last week.
He also said he did not know the volume of the records to be transmitted, because he did not participate in the records settlement exercise.
Al-Hassan said, “The parties involved in the case met last week to settle the records of appeal. I cannot confirm the documents that were agreed on.
“I also do not know the volume because I did not participate in the exercise of settlement but the two parties have agreed on a date for the transmission of the records.”
Saraki, who was charged before the tribunal in September 2015, was on June 14, 2017 discharged and acquitted by the Danladi Umar-led CCT.
The two-man panel of the CCT, in its unanimous judgment upheld Saraki’s no-case submission and exonerated him of all the 18 amended charges.
The judgment of the CCT was anchored on the grounds that the prosecution, after calling four witnesses and tendering 48 documentary exhibits, was unable to establish any prima facie case against the Senate President.
But the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, through its private prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), on June 20, 2017, filed an 11-ground notice of appeal against the CCT’s judgment.
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 Governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2007 for his first term and between 2007 and 2011 for his second term and from 2011 to 2015 as senator.
News Credit: PUNCH.NG