Just In: FG increases Saraki’s false asset declaration charge

The Federal Government on Wednesday increased the charges brought against Senate President Bukola Saraki by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

Saraki is facing trial on a 16-count charge for alleged false asset declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Abuja.

At the resumed hearing on Wednesday a prosecution witness, Samuel Madojemu said investigation into the Senate president began in 2006 by a presidential investigation team.

Madojemu, who was the head of investigation at the CCB, said, “When we joined the team, a review of the investigation was done by the CCB, EFCC and other members of the team. In the course of the review, the team discovered that there was a previous report by a Presidential investigation team set up in 2006 consisting the CCB, EFCC and the SSS.

“It was that report which covered the beginning of tenure 2003 of the defendant. That report was what triggered the investigation,” he said.

While Madojemu was in the dock disclosing his evidence, head of the defence team, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN) drew the attention of the tribunal to the amended charge against his client.

“My lord I think we should at this juncture bring to your notice the fact that we were served with an amended charge this morning.

“You cannot proceed further in th matter until the defendant pleads to that amended charge.

“My lord the defendant is psychologically affected by this amended charge and is desirous to enter his plea.

“At this stage the defendant must plead to it before we proceed further on this matter. If it is not serious then the prosecution should withdraw it”, Agabi submitted.

In his response, the prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) said he did not raise the issue so as not to disrupt proceeding of the day.

“My lord amendment can be done anytime even after their own defence, before judgment is delivered.

“Moreover we are not bringing anything new. The new charge is just the old wine in a new bottle,” Jacobs argued.

The tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, said he had not been briefed about the decision to amend the charges.

“Chief Agabi remember that Rotimi is your son”, the tribunal Chairman, Justice Umar jokingly remarked.

“No my lord, Rotimi is now a bad son”, Agabi responded.

Subsequently the matter was stood down for an hour for hearing on the application to amend the charges.

The trial, which began in September 2015, on a 13-count charge was earlier amended in 2016, with an addition of three charges.

The trial will continue later on Wednesday after the one hour adjournment.

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