The President of the Nigerian Senate Bukola Saraki got a huge reprieve and the last laugh on Friday as the apex court freed him of all charges in the false assets declaration case at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.
In a judgment delivered by Justice Centus Nweze, the Supreme Court upheld Saraki’s application for relief, discharging him of the remaining three charges.
Recall that the Umar Danladi-led CCT had in June 2017, terminated the trial and dismissed the entire 18 counts charges preferred against the Senate President.
The CCT said that the case against him predicated on four witnesses and 49 exhibits tendered and mainly hearsay evidence could not be used to connect the Senate President to the 18 counts preferred against him.
The Nigerian government appealed the CCT decision and the Court of Appeal in Abuja on December 12, 2017 restored three out of the dismissed 18 counts and ordered Saraki to return to the CCT and defend himself.
Mr. Saraki challenged the verdict at the Supreme Court.
In an unanimous decision, Nigeria’s highest court agreed with the CCT that the evidence led by the prosecution at the tribunal was entirely hearsay.
It admonished the Court of Appeal for restoring three out the 18 counts earlier dismissed by the CCT when it agreed that the evidence led by the prosecution was hearsay.
Disagreeing with the Appeal Court in restoring three of the counts based on the evidence it had declared as hearsay, Justice Nweze said it was “equivalent to judicial equivalence of a forensic somersault”.
“The prosecution failed to call those who have direct knowledge of the facts sought to be proved, to testify,” the court said.
With the dismissal of the case, political watchers are of the opinion that the coast is now clear for Mr. Saraki to pursue his presidential ambition, which is no longer a secret.
Saraki had always said that the trial was politically motivated.