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Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki has pleaded ‘not guilty’ to 13-count charges of
fraud and alleged false declaration of assaults brought against him by the Code
of Conduct Bureau. The ex Governor appeared at the Tribunal today with more
than 30 senators and members of the House of Representatives and during the
course of the prosecution, his lawyers challenged the jurisdiction of the
tribunal affirming that the matter wasn’t a criminal case. 

The
prosecution opposed the argument adding that the trial was purely criminal.
Citing section  2 of the
Administration of Justice Act, 2015, he said the matter could be heard
alongside any preliminary objection regarding the tribunal’s jurisdiction.
The new law was signed by former
President Goodluck Jonathan in March 2015, as part of a major reform of
Nigeria’s criminal justice system.
The Act is expected to speed up
corruption cases before the courts, by dealing with issues of preliminary
objections, adjournments, and jurisdiction. The law says such objections must
be addressed by the courts concurrently with the corruption charge, unlike the
past when interlocutory injunctions could go to the Supreme Court and return,
before the main trial begins.

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Mr. Saraki pleaded guilty concerning
his failure to declare his assets when he was Kwara State governor as well as
his alleged use of foreign bank accounts. He also denied making false
declaration of assets. “I
believe that I am here as the Senate president to indicate my respect for the
tribunal. I am puzzled why I am being compelled”
. He said
He has also been granted bail.
Meanwhile, the matter has been adjourned to 21st, 22nd and 23rd October for
hearing.

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