''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol XI No 9

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Tuesday September 22, 2015 - President of the Nigerian Senate, the third in line in Nigeria's political hierarchy appears before Code of Conduct Tribunal to answer to a 13-count charge relating to his conduct in office. Takes a plea and is to appear again next month. This is how the Rule of Law operates in law-abiding and God-fearing societies unlike the jungle justice system of Sierra Leone.Nigeria's Code of Conduct Head

Dr Olubukola Abubakar Saraki is President of the Senate, the third most powerful political figure after the President and the Vice President.

His occupation of this office could have given him a sense of being above the law and so when he was ordered to appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, he could well have brushed such a summon aside as he was cocksure that his lawyers would block any such order.

It would seem his lawyers tried their best to delay the arrest warrant issued for him and when he failed to appear before the Tribunal as ordered on Friday last week, the head of the Tribunal would have none of it. His lawyers gave assurances that come yesterday Monday, they would produce him at the Tribunal but alas, he again failed.

It was becoming a test of will and strength of the law between the Senator and the Tribunal. In the end, the forces of the law empowered to probe allegations of the like nailed on the Senator won, and today Senator Olubukola Abubakar Saraki was in court and was led to the enclosure in court reserved for accused persons.

Reports say that at least fifty Senators were in court to give him what they call support. He, the President of the Senate, sat there as the 13 charges against him were read out. Most if not all of the allegations against him relates to declarations he made on the statutory asset declaration forms for Public Office holders.

The tribunal believes he made a number of false statements about his assets. He is also alleged to have breached another key provision of the Code of Conduct which bars Public Office holders from operating bank accounts outside Nigeria.

"3. Prohibition of Foreign Accounts - The President, Vice President, Governor, Deputy Governor, Ministers of the Government of the Federation and Commissioners of the Governments of the States, members of the National Assembly and the Houses of Assembly of the States, and such other public officers or persons as the National Assembly may by law prescribe shall not maintain or operate a bank account in any country outside Nigeria."

The Nigeria-based online outlet Premium Times has this bit -

"The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has arrived the courtroom of the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja to face trial over a 13-count charge of corruption levelled against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau. Mr. Saraki arrived the tribunal premises at 9:32 a.m., accompanied by “about 50 senators and some members of the House of Representatives”, his spokesperson, Yusuph Olaniyonu, told PREMIUM TIMES.

Some of the senators in court, according to a PREMIUM TIMES reporter at the trial, are Theodore Orji, Sam Egwu, Ike Ekweremadu, Shaba Lafiaji, Aliyu Wamakko, Rafiu Ibrahim, Tayo Alasoadura, Hamma Misau, Samuel Anyanwu, Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi, among others. The Chairman of the Tribunal came into the courtroom at 10.32 a.m, and apologised for the delay in the commencement of proceeding.

He said the tribunal was sorting out some matters. This newspaper learnt that the Senate President and his supporters first converged on the National Assembly early on Tuesday morning from where they took off in a convoy of buses for the tribunal. One of the senators, who asked not to be named, said he and his colleagues decided to provide cover for the senate president to prevent him from being arrested or humiliated by the police.

A supporter of the Senate President, now also inside the courtroom, told PREMIUM TIMES, “We are already seated. No shaking. The plan is to humiliate the man, not minding if they break the law or violate the procedure.

“We have nothing to fear. After Saraki has exercised his fundamental human rights in relevant courts, we are here to to show the lies contained in the charges.”

Mr. Saraki had on Monday released a statement, saying he was now ready to attend his trial, days after he battled frantically to use the courts to halt the trial. At the hearing, Mr. Saraki’s lawyers objected to the sitting contending that the Tribunal was incompetently constituted. They argued that the 1999 Constitution provided that the Tribunal can only sit with three of its members, namely the chairman and two members present as against two – chairman and one member – which was the case when the trial resumed.

However, Mr. Umar responded by referring to the Interpretation Act, which says the chairman and one member could sit during any trial.

The UK-based Daily Mail has also been following the unfolding drama.

"The tribunal, a special court that tries asset declaration misdemeanors, charged Saraki last week and issued a warrant for his arrest on Friday after he failed to appear before the court. "I will not keep him (Saraki) here. I will let him go," said tribunal chairman Danladi Umar, releasing the senate president on bail and adjourning the hearing until October 21.

The 13 charges mostly relate to the ownership of land held by his company Carlisle Properties Ltd between 2003 and 2011. Other charges relate to his transfer of $3.4 million to an account outside Nigeria while he was governor of Kwara state, and sending 1.5 million pounds sterling to a European account to cover a mortgage for a London property. Saraki's media team has previously called the allegations "false, incorrect and untrue" and said they had been brought under outside influence.

Saraki secured the position of senate president in June after a no-contest vote, mainly with the backing of the opposition. The move was controversial, prompting outrage from some members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) who backed other candidates and had been meeting outside of the National Assembly when the decision was made."

Here's a section of the Code of Conduct that should be of interest to our very own Head of the Anti Corruption Commission one Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara who we have learnt has had his contract extended for another five-year term.

Could this be a reward for Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara's turning a blind eye to the complete disregard of the Anti Corruption Commission laws? We think so because up to this time, Sierra Leoneans have not seen the details of the much-trumpeted Declaration of Assets form that the rat known as Ernest Bai Koroma is reported to have submitted to the Anti Corruption Commission.

The failure to make public this document sent shock waves throughout the country as many viewed it as another scam by the smoke and mirrors occupant of State House. In the wake of this, many Public Officers in Sierra Leone refused to fill out Asset Declaration Forms until, they say, the President's presentation was made public.

Here's a part of what the Anti Corruption Act of 2008 states - Penalty for failure to furnish information and for false answers.

55. Any person who (a) fails to furnish any statutory declaration or  statement as required in subsections (1) to  (3) of section 54; or (b) in making any statement or furnishing any information under section 54, willfully makes any false statement or any statement which he does not believe to be true, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not less than five million leones or to imprisonment for a term not less than one year or to both such fine and imprisonment.

Kindly note that Nigeria's President Buhari has declared his assets as required by law and this has been made public. Among his assets -

Five homes and two mud houses, as well as farms.

An orchard and a ranch with 270 head of cattle,

25 sheep, five horses and

a variety of birds and Shares in three firms.

That is how an honest, law-abiding Head of State behaves - leading by example and not the antics of the anti-Constitution, anti-people rat occupying State House in Freetown.

We would again like to remind the Anti Corruption Commission of what the Anti Corruption Act says with regards to - Independence of the Commission - 9. (1) The Commission shall act independently, impartially, fairly and in the public interest. (2) Subject to this Act, the Commission shall not, in the performance of its functions, be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority.

With this in mind and a public document, we are at a loss as to why the so-called Parliamentary Leader Rass-in has not been hauled before the courts for breaching the rules of the Commission after he and his cronies sought to prevent the Anti Corruption Commission from investigating the various breaches and rampant thieving exposed by the Auditor General's report on the handling of the funds intended for the battle against the Ebola Virus Disease.

Parliament could have come with its own remedy to protect the rat and his cronies but this should not stop the Anti Corruption Commission whose legal and Constitutional duty is to investigate what is been seen by many as an outright thieving enterprise the actors of which are clearly named in that report.

Kindly read through the provisions of the Anti Corruption Commission as they relate to - PART VIII - INTEGRITY IN PUBLIC LIFE - Public officers to declare assets and liabilities

119. (1) Every public officer shall within three months of becoming a public officer deposit with the Commission a sworn declaration of his income, assets and. liabilities and thereafter not later than 31st March in each succeeding year that he is a public officer, he shall deposit further declarations of his income, assets and liabilities and also while leaving office.

(6) Where a public officer who is required to furnish a declaration fails to do so in accordance with this section or without reasonable cause, fails to furnish details in accordance with the prescribed form, the Commission shall publish such fact in the Gazette and in at least two daily newspapers published in Sierra Leone or broadcast such fact on a radio station in the locality of such public officer’s last known place of residence .

Examination and publication of declaration. 120. (1) The Commission shall examine every declaration furnished to it and may request from the declarant any  information or explanation relevant to a declaration made by him, which in its opinion, would assist it in its examination.

(2) Where upon an examination under subsection (1), the Commission is satisfied that a declaration has been fully made, it shall publish or cause to be published a certificate in the Gazette in the form prescribed by the Commission.

(3) Where the Commission publishes or causes to be published a certificate under subsection (2), any person may make a written complaint to the Commission in relation to that certificate.

Power to investigate particulars in declaration.

121. (1) Where

 (a) upon an examination under section 121, the Commission is not satisfied that a declaration has been fully made, it may decide that further investigation is necessary; or

(b) after a certificate has been published in the Gazette under section 121 any person makes a written complaint to the Commission in relation to that certificate, the Commission, after consideration of the complaint, may decide that the complaint should be investigated.

Offences in relation to declarations.

122. Any person who (a) fails without reasonable cause, to furnish to the Commission a declaration which he is required to furnish in accordance with the provisions of this Act; (b) knowingly makes any false statement in such declaration; (c) fails without reasonable cause to give such information or explanation as the Commission may require;


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