CCT finally begins Saraki’s trialBy Samson Atekojo Usman on April 5, 2016
Finally, the proper trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki has commenced. The trial began immediately CCT Trial Judge resumed from break at about 1.00pm on Tuesday, after having ruled that the trial cannot be stopped on the basis of the motion filed by the defendant at the Court of Appeal against the judgment delivered on 24th March, 2016 on the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the case.
Citing relevant sections of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, and Criminal Justice Act 2015, Justice Umar ruled that notwithstanding the motion of Appeal which was acknowledged by the CCT, it was unjustifiable that the matter be adjourned as canvassed by the defendant, ordering for commencement of trial.
“Having listened to arguments from the Counsels, and considering the provisions of laws in the Constitution and Criminal Justice Act, 2015, especially on the powers of CCT in a case brought before it, I want to rule that trial should commence immediately,” Justice Umar ruled.
However, there was an effort by the defence counsel, Paul Usoro, who sought for adjournment on the grounds that the defence was ill-prepared especially that he was appearing for the first time on behalf of Chief Kanu Agabi .
“My Lord, I’m appearing for the first time and we are ill-prepared to commence trial in as much as we will abide by your ruling especially that Chief Kanu Agabi was unavailable which I have apologised on his behalf,” Usoro requested.
Responding, Justice Umar cautioned against abuse of Court’s decision while Rotimi Jacobs asked the prosecuting witness to enter the witness box for oath in compliance with Section 106 of evidence Act, 2004 in an atmosphere of absolute silence.
Speaking from the witness box, an EFCC investigator disclosed that Saraki had maintained three Accounts with Gurantee Trust Bank in which he took loans at different times when he was governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.
The witness added that the three different currencies were operated Naira, Dollars and Pounds Sterling and were in the name of different companies, noting that the inflow and outflow in the accounts range from 4 billion dollars.
Meanwhile, Chief Agabi who entered the Chamber at exactly 1.15pm while the witness was giving a graphic account of how Saraki laundered money in local and foreign currency in the accounts interjected and announced his appearance.
Under the evidence Act 2004, printouts of electronic statement of account from Banks can now be admitted in courts of law and it is expected that Guarantee Trust Bank, Ilorin, Kwara State, American Express Bank in the United States and Fortis Bank, U. K. and other Financial Institutions involved would tender such proofs as proceeding progresses.