The trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Code of Conduct Tribunal had it twists and turns but Pointblanknews.com has learnt why lack of proper preparation, lack of hard facts bungled the prosecution’s case.
According to checks of records of the proceedings, the crux of the failure was the fact that the prosecution tried to “ put something on nothing” . It hinged its case on several of the charges that have no basis in law and did not violate any existing statute of the Code of conduct Bureau.
Even though the confusion that trailed the prosecution’s team forced it to amend the charges twice, it still fell short of basic principles of litigation.
According to legal analysts who spoke with our correspondent, the chief witness for the prosecution, and former Head of Investigation Division at the Code of Coduct Bureau, Mr Samuel Madojemu was the major blow to the prosecution’s case.
The Defense led by Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN) and Paul Erokoro (SAN), during cross-examination of Madojemu, exposed the inadequacy in the prosecution’s case.
The Prosecution hinged its argument on eight key charges that were destroyed dy defense during cross. They were charges 1,2,3, 9,10, 11, 12 and 13. The issues of properties owned by companies where Saraki has substantial shares formed the basis of the counts. They were a key ingredient in their allegation of ‘false declaration of assets’.
The defence team took the witness through each of the counts in order to get evidence that will strengthen their case. For example, the defence asked Madojemu whether any law prevents a public officer from owning shares in companies. He answered in the negative and added a proviso that the public officer must however declare the shares in his asset form.
At another time, they made him read through the defendant’s asset declaration forms and they asked him if the defendant mentioned his shares in the companies said to own some of the properties he was being prosecuted for owning. He agreed that Saraki declared his “substantial shares” in the companies. Erokoro also asked Madojemu whether there is any column in the asset declaration form provided for declaring properties owned by companies in which the declarant has interest. The witness said there was none.
Surprisingly, in his evidence during the cross-examination, Madojemu after reading out the contents of the asset declaration forms filled by Saraki, was asked if the defendant through one of his companies, Carlisle Properties Limited actually owned the property on No. 15A McDonald, Ikoyi since 2000. He agreed that the Federal Government sold the property to G & C in 1997 and that Saraki’s company bought the property in 2002 from G & C. The property was therefore not purchased by Saraki in 2006 when he was Governor as earlier claimed by EFCC. The contention of the prosecution that since the Federal Government sold the property in 1997 to G &C Properties Limited, Saraki could not have owned it before he became Governor in 2003 was therefore not tenable. This admission effectively nullified the charge of anticipatory declaration which the prosecution had initially levelled against the defendant.
On charges 4 , 5, 6, 7 and 8 It was clear that in formulating counts on the charge sheet, the prosecution did not properly scrutinize the contents of the forms. Therefore it was easy for the defense to contradict the prosecution .
In count 17 where Saraki was accused of receiving salary from Kwara State Government at the same time he was being paid as a Senator, the defence asked Madojemu if he and his team came to that conclusion after interrogating officials of the Kwara State government. He said they only relied on Saraki’s bank details in an Access Bank account. He was also asked if he knew about Kwara State Pension law for former public officials. The witness said he did not know about the law.
In the follow up question, the witness was made to admit that bank error could occur in the course of making entries on bank’s transactions. In essence, the major ingredient of proving that charge is to confirm from Kwara State Ministry of Finance whether the payment was a salary or pension. Saraki, it was submitted, is lawfully entitled to pension and the entry being relied upon was for pension not salary.
On the last charge, count 18 which states that Saraki falsely declared that he owned substantial share in Carlisle Property Limited and Tiny Tee Limited, the defence simply allowed the witness to do the calculation in the shareholding to prove that his client’s shares are indeed “substantial and controlling” as he claimed.
There are some revealing facts from the investigation by Madojemu which came out from the cross-examination. For example, he admitted that Saraki’s assets across the country have never been verified until last month when he and his colleagues visited some of the properties in Lagos. He also noted that Saraki’s was the first case where the CCB prosecutor would be given oral directive to commence investigation and where the reports were also made orally, without any record