Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has questioned the powers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to excuse the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Justice Danladi Uma, from prosecution following his involvement in N10 million bribery scandal. This came as documents obtained by popular online publication, Premium Times, revealed that the embattled Senate President transferred a total of $3.47 million in 40 installments in four years with his credit cards to the United States.
In opposition, Saraki argued that under the law, only the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice had the powers to shield an accused person from criminal prosecution. Speaking through his lawyer, Mr. Ajibola Oluyede, Saraki said the clearance the EFCC issued to Umar cannot override the recommendation the immediate past AGF made in 2014 for his prosecution. He said the clean bill of health the anti-graft agency gave thhe CCT chairman recently, confirmed his position that the tribunal, under Umar, would not ensure fairness in his ongoing trial. Oluyede argued that only the AGF could reverse a decision to prosecute an accused person, insiting that Saraki’s application urging Justice Umar to disqualify himself from the trial was still pending before the tribunal.
Saraki’s lawyer blamed media reports that the application was thrown out by the tribunal, saying since he prosecution was yet to respond to it, and it had not been heard, the tribunal could not have validly determined its merit otherwise. He said: “We are not saying he (Umar) is guilty. We are saying he is tainted and that he cannot act independently while the EFCC that is investigating him and had indicted him is now prosecuting our client before him. That is why we asked him to excuse himself from the trial. He did so before in the case involving former FCT Minister, Jeremiah Useni, where he excused himself from the hearing on the grounds that he had a close relationship with Useni. We are asking him to do so again now because of the facts that we have presented.”
Meanwhile, the document also indicated that Saraki transferred a total of $3.47 million in 40 installments in four years with his credit card to the United States. He carried out the transactions through Guaranty Trust Bank between 2009, when he served as Kwara State governor, and 2012 when he served as the senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial District. Prosecutors say the beneficiary accounts in the US were also owned by Saraki. Some of the senator’s companies, during the same period, also transferred thousands of dollars to the US accounts. The companies are Carlisle Properties and West Gate Ltd.