The courts are expected to be busy this year. In his New Year’s speech, President Buhari restated his administration’s commitment to fight corruption. Several high-profile cases are in court. Politicalsettlements? How will they proceed this year?
Here's a special report by The Nation, highlighting some of the cases which are of public interest.
For the courts, 2016 ended on a busy note. There was a deluge of high-profile criminal cases because of the Federal Government’s resolve to prosecute suspected corrupt public officers. Hearing in the cases continues this year. How will they end?
In his New Year’s speech, President Muhammadu Buhari vowed not to relent in his fight against corruption.
He said: “Our determination to wrestle corruption to the ground remains unshaken. This fight, which will be guided by respect for the rule of law and due process, will not spare anybody or organ of government.
“It is a collective undertaking and resolve that must be seen to its logical conclusion in spite of certain distractions. The fate of our country lies partly in the success of this campaign. It will be unthinkable on my part to allow the boat of this crucial campaign promise to capsize mid-stream.”
Saraki’s trial at CCT
The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) will resume proceedings in the trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki on January 11. He is facing a 13-count charge of false assets declaration. The case has witnessed various delays since the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) filed the charge on September 14, 2015.
Though Saraki took his plea on September 22, 2015, the prosecution has been unable to move beyond calling its first witness. After months of delays, with Saraki challenging almost every step taken by the tribunal, its jurisdiction and the composition, trial eventually commenced last April 5 with the prosecution calling its first witness, Michael Wetkas.
The prosecution wasted no time as Wetkas concluded his evidence-in-chief on April 18 (within three adjournments). But it took the defence 14 adjournments, spanning over seven months to cross-examine the first prosecution witness.
The defence team, comprising of senior lawyers like Kanu Agabi (SAN), Joseph Daudu (SAN), Paul Erokoro (SAN), Paul Usoro (SAN), Mahmud Magaji (SAN), among others, cross-examined Wetkas between April 18 and November 8, last year.
When the defence announced its conclusion of what the prosecution counsel Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) described as the longest cross-examination in the history of the nation’s criminal jurisprudence, the tribunal also stunned all when it adjourned further proceedings from November 8 to January 11.
Dasuki and others
Former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, is currently facing three charges. In the first case, he is charged with money laundering and illegal possession of firearms. The former NSA was arraigned on the charge before Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja on September 1, 2015.
Proceedings in the case is expected to commence afresh before another judge at the resumption of the Federal High Court this month. This is because Justice Ademola is being tried for alleged corrupt practices.
In another charge, Dasuki was arraigned with ex-Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda, a former Director of Finance at the office of the NSA, Shuaibu Salisu, a former governor of Sokoto state, Attahiru Bafarawa, his son, Sagir Bafarawa and their company, Dalhatu Investment Limited for allegedly stealing about N9.2billion from the office of the NSA.
Both charges are now pending before Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The prosecution is expected to open its case when proceedings resumes on January 25.
Badeh and his predecessor
Former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Alex Badeh is standing trial with a firm, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited on a 10-count charge, before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja
They are charged with breach of trust and corruption. Badeh was said to have committed the offences while serving as the Chief of Air Staff in 2013.
There is also the case involving Badeh’s predecessor, Air Chief Marshal Mohammed Diko Umar (rtd), who is being tried on a seven-count charge of corruption involving about N7.382billion. It alleged that Umar removed the money from the account of the Nigerian Air Force while he was the Chief of Air Staff.
The former spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh is facing trial in two courts. He is being tried with his company, Destra Investments Ltd, before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja on a seven-count charge.
They were charged with breach of trust, corruption and money laundering, offences contrary to section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended in 2012) and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.
They were arraigned last January 15. He is expected to continue with his defence when proceedings resume before Justice Abang early this year.
Source: THE NATION