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False Asset Declaration: Why we lost to Saraki-EFCC

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Blames Code of Conduct Bureau

Jude Johnson

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Tuesday said it lost the corruption case against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki because it was not allowed by the Code of Conducted Bureau (CCB) to fully take charge of the case.

Saraki was jointly prosecuted by the EFCC and CCB on false asset declaration.

However, the Supreme Court last week Friday cleared Saraki, of all charges filed against him in his false assets declaration trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

A five-man panel, led by Justice Dattijo Muhammad, solidly discharged the three-count charge against the senate president on Friday, July 6, 2018.

The Senate President had earlier been cleared of all charges in June 2017 by the Justice Danladi Umar-led tribunal stating the prosecution’s inability to prove the allegations, but a December 2017 ruling by the Court of Appeal in Abuja had ordered him back to the tribunal to answer for three of the original 18 charges.

The Supreme Court panel upheld Saraki’s appeal and declared the evidence led by the prosecution as hearsay.

Meanwhile, speaking at a Stakeholders Forum on Speaking for Anti-graft agencies on “Effective Communication and Public Relations with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission”; organised by CLEEN Foundation, EFCC acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, said that the workshop was timely, saying it would help build the agency’s capacity and also communicate effectively to all the various stakeholders within the anti corruption sector.

Magu, who was represented by the agency’s spokesperson, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, while reacting to some remarks made by the panellists during the session noted that some remarks by some of them didn’t tell the real story of how EFCC works.

He said a number of cases that EFCC had taken to court have been properly investigated, adding that the prosecutors that handled the Saraki’s case are the best the agency has, but said that the case was lost because it was handled with CCB.

On the issue of media trial, he said EFCC has never parade any accused person but insisted that Nigerians as the key stakeholders in the anti corruption war needs to be updated and informed about the activities of the agency, stressing that that is why EFCC always give out information about major corruption cases its prosecuting.

He noted: “It was not the fact that they were not competent (Saraki’s Prosecutors), they were really very good. If EFCC had come out to fully own that investigation as an EFCC investigation that case would not have gone the way it went.”

Earlier, the Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation, Mr. Benson Olugbuo, said that the project was conceived against the need for optimum capacity for law enforcement and anti-graft agencies in Nigeria to be more effective in their relations with the public.

He said it was also aimed at strengthening relations between criminal justice actors, anti-graft agencies and the citizens through improved and ineffective communications for transparency and accountability.

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