…apex court judgement exonerates judiciary – Ex Kwara Khadis
By Kayode Adeoti
It was a long legal battle of 1,018 days for the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki who was charged for the allegation of false anticipatory asset declaration by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
The legal frameworks all began on a Friday morning, precisely on 18th September, 2015 and ended three years after on 7th July, 2018 also on a Friday morning.
The judgement which was handed down by a five-man panel of judges led by Justice Centus Nweze of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in Abuja has again rendered impotent the conventional belief that ‘justice delayed is justice denied’. It has further renewed the faith and trust of not only the common man but every individual in the country in the judicial system.
Sequel to this development, many people, especially the political class have been asking if the trial was prosecution or persecution following the persistent efforts of the government’s anti corruption agency to get judgement that would rather convict the person of the Senate President.
Things seem to have turned sour for Saraki shortly after he became the President of the 8th National Assembly. To some people in the corridor of power, his emergence contradicted the party structure, while others were of the view that the process was not wrong but political.
According to some political pundits, the emergence of Saraki was what cumulated into his trial, as he was therefore dragged before CCT on 18-count charge. After years of argument by Saraki’s counsels, the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar dismissed all the charges and acquitted him.
But surprisingly, the government of the All Progressives Congress (APC) appealed the judgement. In an appealed against decision of CCT, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja ruled on December 12, 2017 restoring three out of the dismissed 18-count charge and subsequently returned Saraki to CCT to defend the allegations.
However, the Supreme Court last Friday buried the matter forever as if acquitted Saraki of all the charges, declaring the evidence of the prosecution as hearsay.
He held that the Court of Appeal was wrong to have restored three out the 18 counts earlier dismissed by the CCT when it agreed that the evidence led by the prosecution was hearsay but went ahead to isolate three of the counts as having been proved.
Justice Nweze quoted a part of the Court of Appeal’s judgment where it held that “the prosecution failed to call those who have direct knowledge of the facts sought to be proved, to testify”.
Faulting the Court of Appeal’s turn around to restore three of the counts based on the evidence it had declared as hearsay, Justice Nweze said it was “judicial equivalent of a forensic somersault”.
The former State Grand Khadi, Justice Idris Abdullah Haroon in a chat with Pilot Law yesterday, however, saluted the courage and the resilient spirit of Saraki saying he did not use his position as the number third citizen to influence the matter.
“I’m happy that he didn’t try to influence the judicial process with his position. That’s commendable, I’m happy he demonstrated faith in God that sees through everything. Some are saying the trial is persecution, but by his position, it can still be influenced. For him to submit himself and subdue his position to uphold the rule of law to that extent makes him to be emulative.
“Judges must be firm and also simple. This will make them guard their thoughts to see what ordinary mind cannot see. This judgement is based on available tendered evidence, proofs… The judgement exonerated the judiciary of some unfounded allegations that they were made by people in the highest quarters of the government. Everyone can learn from the Senate President that when the vicissitude of life comes, we should stand bold and face it. No one should believe end has come unless one is lowered into the grave,” the retired Judge stressed.
In his reaction to the development, the immediate past Grand Khadi of the Sharia Court, Justice Salihu Oloruntoyin Muhammad described Saraki’s victory at the Supreme Court as a vindication of the judiciary process. According to him, the verdict further testified to the fact that the sector can be relied upon infallible decisions.
“The judgement to me is a great achievement for the judiciary. It has further enhanced the fact that the judiciary is still the hope of the common man. The verdict is a blessing to Kwara State, that shows that we will continue to forge ahead as the state of unity and harmony,” he stated.