The Presidency, on Wednesday, described as outrageous and travesty of justice the acquittal of Senate President Bukola Saraki by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which upheld the no-case submission of the Senate President.
The Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, wondered why the CCT dismissed the weight of “overwhelming evidence” against Saraki, who was tried for false asset declaration by the Federal Government.
The CCT in Abuja had discharged and acquitted Saraki of all the 18 charges of false asset declaration and other related offences preferred against him.
The two-man panel of the CCT, led by its Chairman, Danladi Umar, unanimously upheld the no-case submission, filed by Saraki after the prosecution closed its case with 48 exhibits tendered and after the testimonies of the fourth and the last prosecution witness on May 4, 2017.
But the Transparency International (Nigeria) and a chieftain of the defunct National Democratic Coalition, Mr. Ayo Opadokun, among others, described the judgment as sad and a calculated attempt to frustrate the war against corruption in the country.
The CCT chairman, Umar, in his lead ruling, exonerated Saraki of all the charges on, among other grounds, the failure of the prosecution to obtain Saraki’s statement and make it part of the proof of evidence.
He described as “absurd” that neither Saraki’s statement nor the report of investigation said to have been carried out was produced before the tribunal.
He agreed with the defence team, led by Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), that the prosecution’s evidence had been manifestly discredited during cross-examination by the defence.
He added that the evidence adduced by the prosecution, led by Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), was “so unreliable that no reasonable tribunal could convict” anyone based on it.
Umar also noted that the evidence of the first prosecution witness, Mr. Michael Wetkas, an operative of the EFCC, was unreliable.
Concerning the evidence of the second prosecution witness, Mr. Amazi Nwachuckwu, Head of Funds Transfer Unit of the Guaranty Trust Bank, Umar noted that the witness had testified that documents relating to alleged foreign transfers by Saraki had been consumed in a fire incident, adding that there was nothing to prove the charges that were based on the documents.
Lawyers and Saraki’s supporters in court burst into wild jubilation as soon as the tribunal made the pronouncement exonerating the Senate President on Wednesday.
While the lead defence counsel, Agabi, thanked the tribunal for the ruling, the counsel, who led the prosecution team at the Wednesday’s sitting, Mr. Pius Akutah, told journalists that the prosecution would review the ruling “in order to determine the next step”.
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 being the governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2007 for his first term and between 2007 and 2011 for his second term as governor and from 2011 to 2015 as a Senator.
Among the breaches were that he obtained N375m loan from Guaranty Trust Bank Plc in 2010, converted it to £1,515,194.53 and transferred the sum to the United Kingdom for full and final mortgage payment for a London property.
Additional charges against him included allegation that he continued to receive salary and emoluments as governor of Kwara State after the expiration of his tenure and at the same time, from the Federal Government as a Senator between June 2011 and October 2013.
He was also said to have failed to declare to the Code of Conduct Bureau on assumption of office as Governor of Kwara State in 2003, his leasehold interest in the property at 42 Remi Fani-Kayode Street, Ikeja, Lagos.
The prosecution also alleged that while being a public officer, the ex-governor operated bank accounts outside Nigeria and failed to declare the foreign accounts to the CCB while being governor and a senator during the period.
Properties that were allegedly falsely declared by Saraki included 17, 17A and 17B McDonald, Ikoyi, Lagos; Plot 2A Glover Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; 37A Glover Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, which he allegedly bought through Carlisle Properties; No. 1 and 3 Targus Street, Maitama, Abuja, otherwise known as 2482, Cadastral Zone A06, Abuja.
The Supreme Court had on February 5, 2016 dismissed Saraki’s objection challenging his trial before the CCT.
In his contribution to the ruling of the tribunal on Wednesday, co-member of the tribunal, Atedze Agwaza, who expatiated on the decision of the tribunal to free Saraki, noted that the Senate President was investigated by an illegal team comprising officials of the CCB, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Department of State Services.
He noted that such investigative team was strange to both the Constitution and the CCB/CCT Act under which Saraki was charged.
He also rejected the entire evidence of the prosecution on the basis that the evidence of the third prosecution witness, Mr. Samuel Madojemu, the Head, Intelligence Unit of the CCB, was nothing but hearsay.
Agwaza stated, “I find and hold that this apposite testimony is an affliction and epidemic that bedevilled the entire prosecution’s case and that particular evidence has rendered the whole-evidence of the prosecution invalid.
“It connotes that PW3 had no first-hand knowledge of all he said and the documents tendered. This is hearsay evidence and violates sections 37, 38 and 126 of the Evidence Act 2011.
He said the combined effect of the illegality of the investigative team and the inadmissible evidence of the prosecution was that “the charge is incurably defective” and amounted to a miscarriage of justice suffered by the defendant.
Agwaza added, “It will be fundamentally erroneous for this tribunal to call upon the defendant to prove his innocence.
“On this account, the prosecution had failed to link the defendant to the commission of the offences as charged.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu Hails Morayo Afolabi-Brown’s Appointment As MD Of TVCe
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has congratulated popular television presenter, Dr. Morayo Afolabi-Brown, on her appointment as the Managing Director of TVCe, the Entertainment Channel of TVC Communications.
He said the new role given to Afolabi-Brown, the host of the TVC’s breakfast programme, ‘Your View’ is well deserved.
Governor Sanwo-Olu in a statement issued on Thursday by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, said Afolabi-Brown’s appointment as Managing Director of TVCe is inspirational to young media practitioners that they can get to the top position of their career with hardwork, commitment and discipline.
He said: “The appointment of Dr. Morayo Afolabi-Brown as the Managing Director of TVCe, the Entertainment Channel of TVC Communications, is deserving having distinguished herself at TVC Communications and the media industry for almost two decades.
“Morayo Afolabi-Brown is one of the most influential women presenters not only in Nigeria but Africa. She has been recognised as one of the top 25 most influential women in Journalism Africa (WIJA) 2020 where she ranked 18th on the list.
“I believe strongly that Morayo Afolabi-Brown’s new appointment is an inspiration to young media practitioners, particularly members of staff of TVC Communications, that they can get to the top of their career in the company if they put in a little more than is expected from them by their employers.
“Morayo Afolabi-Brown’s new role attests to her exceptional track record of achievements in TVC Communications as a former Deputy Director of Programmes TVC News, where she created content on three independent channels for broadcast. She has also made a lot of impact as a host in addressing basic issues in society through the TVC’s breakfast show ‘Your View,’ programme.
CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY
30 NOVEMBER 2023
NDLEA Chairman Marwa Warns New Cadets Against Fraternising With Drug Traffickers
The chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Buba Marwa, has asked new cadets not to “fraternise” with illicit drug offenders.
Marwa spoke on Thursday during the passing out ceremony of 2,500 cadets of senior officers basic course 16 at NDLEA academy, Jos, Plateau state.
The NDLEA boss said the agency will not tolerate “internal sabotage” in the war against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in the country.
Marwa, who was represented by Victoria Egbase, director, planning, research and statistics of NDLEA, said the agency cannot “decelerate” its efforts on the war against illicit drugs.
“We are currently on the verge of expanding our presence to all 774 local government areas in the country,” Marwa was quoted as saying in a statement by Femi Babafemi, NDLEA spokesperson.
“What that should tell our new officers is that there is work to do, and you cannot afford to be complacent or compromise the high standards we have set.
“On that note, let me also inform you that you must not fraternise with offenders of drug trafficking laws.
“Doing so is dangerous to your safety; it is catastrophic to your career; it sabotages organisational goals; and it is inimical to society’s wellbeing.
“Remembering this nugget of advice and abiding by it will ensure you a colourful and gratifying career.
“I must prepare your minds for the task ahead of you. The duties are such that there is no room for compromising the ethics of your profession or subverting the goals of the organisation.
“In our renewed campaign against illicit drugs, we are at a stage of ramped-up interdiction against cannabis, opioids, and other psychoactive substances.
“We cannot afford to decelerate our effort and we will not tolerate sabotage from within.”
GBV: Rapists To Be Castrated In Kaduna — Human Service Commissioner Rabi Salisu
The Kaduna State Government has reiterated its resolve against all forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV), particularly for those who engage in any form of rape, the State Commissioner for Human Services and Social Development, Hajia Rabi Salisu, has said.
This is just as she said that male rapists will be subjected to surgical castration as punishment while a female rapist will undergo bilateral salpingectomy.
The Commissioner stated this during a press conference as part of activities at a Gender-Based Violence Stakeholders Meeting/Press Conference organised by the ministry in collaboration with Centre for Integrated Health Programs (CIHP).
According to the Commissioner, the punitive measures were contained under the Kaduna State Government Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law (VAPPL), 2018, adding that the law followed a lengthy process of advocacy, lobbying and awareness raised by civil society organizations in the state in collaboration with relevant government agencies.
Also speaking, Dr. Austin Azihaiwe, the State Technical Lead for CIHP, in an interview shortly after the briefing, said the day marked 16-day activism against GBV which was also referred to as ‘Orange the World Campaign’ which began in 1991.
“The essence of these activities is to bring all stakeholders together and harness their resources and capacity to ensure that the fight against GBV is made more impactful in our communities.
“Beyond the presence of the key stakeholders, other community members are here and the aim is to educate stakeholders on how to report GBV cases and enlighten ourselves on the essential services available for GBV survivors.”
Similarly, Mr Hosea Bako, CIHP’s Gender Integration and Mainstreaming Lead for Kaduna State, also mentioned that CIHP, as part of its activities, engages in facilitation and referral of GBV cases.
“Part of our mandate is to provide preventive services through facilities like the Sexual Assault Referral Centers and Community Based Organisations particularly, Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) which is important to prevent HIV,” Bako said.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Human Services and Social Development, however, said the reported cases of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) have been notably on the increase in Kaduna State since the passage of the VAPPL in December 2018, which she said could probably be attributed to increased awareness about VAWG and also the availability of the law.
She also disclosed that the state has witnessed a rise in cases of gender-based violence according to the National Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Data Situation Room and dashboard for prevention and response to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Nigeria, adding that a total of 832 cases have been reported in 2023 so far.
She said the 16-day of activism which started from the November 25 to December 10, which is known to be International Days for the Elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, a period she said provided a time to stir up action to end violence against women and girls around the world.
“25th November is designated as the Orange World Day to End Violence against Women Campaign. The color orange symbolizes a brighter future, free of violence, It also serves as a means of demonstrating solidarity in eliminating all forms of violence and it is therefore used as the color of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women,” she stated.
The commissioner further disclosed that every year, the UNiTE Campaign focuses on a specific theme, adding that this year’s theme was “UNITE! Invest to prevent violence against Women and Girls”.
She said the campaign urged the citizens to show how much they cared about ending violence against women and girls by sharing the actions undertaken to create a world free from violence towards women and girls, while some level of progress has been made in this campaign to end violence against women and girls through the VAPPL, some challenges still exist.
The Commissioner identified some of the factors encumbering the implementation of the law in the state to include; Slow uptake of the law characterised by prosecutors not applying the law to reported GBV cases, VAWG cases are reported but not charged using the VAPP Law as other laws – Penal Code and the Administration of Criminal Justice Law take precedence over the VAPP due to stiffer penalties in those laws than the VAPP.
”Others included; Undue pressure on survivors and/or families to accept out of court settlements by community is also a major hindrance, in addition and poor awareness amongst citizens and service providers, delays in prosecuting cases by the Police and the courts also pose a barrier to access to justice by survivors and victims of VAWG.
“It is therefore imperative to strengthen the justice system, intensify GBV case findings, provide crucial clinical and non-clinical services to survivors of GBV while improving access to these crucial services, addressing the challenge of poor coordination, absence of a harmonized platform for reporting, and lack of capacity to manage Gender-Based Violence data will contribute largely to ending gender based violence,” she added.
According to her, it was important to address the difference in reporting tools and the upload of data on the National GBV dashboard as this will bridge the gaps in the campaign.
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