Head of Nigeria’s legislature, Saraki, scales judicial hurdle, may fancy 2019 presidential chances
His name is Bukola Saraki, and for over three years has been Senate President at Nigeria’s National Assembly, the law-making arm of government. For same number of years, he faced prosecution for alleged false asset declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT)
His name is Bukola Saraki, and for over three years has been Senate President at Nigeria’s National Assembly, the law-making arm of government. For same number of years, he faced prosecution for alleged false asset declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
On Friday, however, Nigeria’s Supreme Court finally laid to rest the trial of a Bukola Saraki, after the apex court led by Justice Dattijo Muhammad unanimously upheld Saraki’s appeal, by dismissing the remnant three counts, and declaring the evidence led by the prosecution as hearsay.
The Danladi Umar-led CCT had, in June last year, terminated the trial upon an application by Saraki, by dismissing the entire 18 counts preferred against the Senate President.
The CCT’s decision was based on the grounds that the prosecution, with its four witnesses and 49 exhibits tendered, only led hearsay evidence which could not be the basis to link Saraki to the 18 counts preferred against him.
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However, the Court of Appeal in Abuja ruling on December 12, 2017, in an appeal filed by the Federal Government against the decision of the CCT, restored three out of the dismissed 18 counts and ordered Saraki to return to the CCT to defend the three charges.
In its lead judgment on Friday, Justice Centus Nweze upheld Saraki’s appeal and dismissed the Federal Government’s appeal.
Justice Nweze agreed with the CCT that the evidence led by the prosecution at the tribunal was entirely hearsay.
Justice Nweze quoted a part of the Court of Appeal’s judgment where it held that “the prosecution failed to call those who have direct knowledge of the facts sought to be proved, to testify”.
Saraki went philosophical soon after the news broke, saying among others, that he had been vindicated after many years of alleged witch-hunting by the Presidency.
“At the end of a tortuous journey of 1018 Days counting from September 22, 2015 when the case began at the Tribunal, I am happy that I have been vindicated. The Supreme Court has affirmed that there is no evidence of false declaration of assets. The court also observed that certain agents took over the responsibility of the Code of Conduct Bureau in this trial, and one can infer that this was done towards a pre-determined end.”
Saraki, Nigeria’s most senior lawmaker, may now fancy his chances at the polls slated for 2019. There are strong speculations that he may yet again throw his hat into the ring, but this time political watchers say his aim is to seize the number one position, a seat currently occupied by Muhammadu Buhari.
He may have scaled the asset declaration hurdle but his travails are not yet over. The Buhari administration still has him pinned to the wall and seeks to prosecute him over allegations that he had been fingered in a deadly robbery operation that led to the killing of over 30 citizens.
Saraki is strongly perceived as team lead of the forces that have since caused a breakaway from the country’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), to form the Reformed APC or r-APC.
South Africa: Opposition, DA want findings on alleged arms supply to Russia public
South African opposition party, the Democratic Alliance has vowed to challenge the decision by the presidency to keep from the public, findings from recent arm supply allegations.
The follows allegations by United States Ambassador, Reuben Brigety that South Africa provided ammunition to Russia by ship. Brigety said the US was sure that contrary to its public claim of being non-aligned in the Russia/Ukraine crisis, South Africa supplied arms to Vladimir Putin’s army in December.
Following the allegation, President Ramaphosa launched an investigation to be conducted by an independent body which will be led by retired Deputy Justice Phineas Mojapelo, advocate Leah Gcabashe, and former justice minister Enver Surty. Meanwhile, his spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya said the government would withhold the panel’s findings.
Magwenya said the terms of reference for the inquiry would not be gazetted or published.
“The investigation covers issues of national security and classified information, which is protected from disclosure,” he said.
“This inquiry has been instituted in a similar manner to the inquiry that investigated the July 2021 riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and the value of its report remains unchallenged.
“The panel will be supported in gathering the information that is necessary to fulfil its mandate by letters from the president instructing all relevant government entities as identified by the panel to cooperate fully with the panel or face disciplinary sanction,” he said.
“The work of the panel will not be public, nor will its report be made public. The president will speak to any actions that may result with respect to national security. This is provided for within our secrecy laws as per the nature of this matter,” he added.
In a statement, the DA said it would not ” leave this secrecy unchallenged. We have already submitted an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act to obtain a copy of the panel’s terms of reference. And we are obtaining legal advice to challenge Ramaphosa’s plan to hide the report once it is complete.”
The party leader, John Steenhuisen argued that keeping the report private “undermines the ability of prosecutors and the public to hold guilty parties accountable for any such violations of the law”.
“Hiding this report from public view will rob the people of South Africa – and of the world – of the opportunity to see the full facts of this matter.
“Refusing to disclose the complete picture of how the ANC-led government allegedly smuggled weapons to arm Russia’s war in Ukraine and various parts of Africa will also undermine the very purpose of the investigation.”
Zimbabwe’s electoral commission, ZEC promises to publicise voters’ register
The electoral commission in Zimbabwe said it would soon publish the voters’ register for the forthcoming general elections.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) also assured the public of a fair election and promised to rectify anomalies that were observed during the voters’ inspection exercise.
The head of ZEC, Utloile Silaigwana made the position known when he announced the end of the mop-up voter registration exercise on Friday.
Silaigwana further revealed that the Nomination court would sit on 21 June and thereafter the voters’ roll would be accessible to candidates.
There are contentions about the neutrality of the electoral commission. In March, a member of the opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), Allan Markham filed a court application challenging ZEC for access to the electronic voters’ roll but had his request rejected because “it was too risky” and in the interest of data protection.
Meanwhile, the ruling party, Zanu PF sent text messages to registered voters during the period urging them to vote for President Emmerson Mnangagwa. This move further fuelled the allegation that Zanu PF had access to the voters’ roll which is why it was able to send the messages.
President Mnangagwa is running for re-election to a second term after coming to power following a military coup that dislodged Robert Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s president in 2017.
The country is struggling with deep poverty, recurring power outages, and crippling unemployment, all of which have fuelled widespread resentment.
The President of Zimbabwe is elected using a two-round system. The Zimbabwean legislature is made up of 270 members of the National Assembly, 210 members elected in single-member constituencies, and 60 women elected by proportional representation in ten six-seat constituencies based on the country’s provinces.
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