The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, this morning appeared before the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja to defend himself in an allegation of13 false declaration of asset levied against him.
Saraki, who was absent from the last hearing at the tribunal, appeared before Justice Umar Danladi, Chairman of the tribunal, who read the charges before him.
Saraki however pleaded not guilty to the 13 charges against him.
Umar had issued a bench warrant against Mr. Saraki for not appearing to face a 13-count charge of corruption, brushing aside a Federal High Court order seeking to stop Mr. Saraki’s arraignment.
In charge number ABT/01/15, Mr. Saraki is accused of offences ranging from anticipatory declaration of assets to making false declaration of assets in forms he filed before the Code of Conduct Bureau while he was governor of Kwara state.
The Senate President is also accused of failing to declare some assets he acquired while in office as governor, acquiring assets beyond his legitimate earnings, and operating foreign accounts while being a public officer – governor and senator, among others.
In a statement through his spokesperson, Yusuph Olaniyonu, the senate president said he refused to appear before the tribunal relying on an order issued by a Federal High Court on Thursday, directing that the case against him be halted.
He accused the tribunal of pursuing a political agenda, and said he was certain the court would give him justice
At the heat of the false asset declaration controversy, it was learned, Saraki had to move out of his Abuja residence to the guest house of the Senate president office for security reasons.
Source said, “The president of the Senate has relocated from his personal house in Abuja. Saraki is now staying in the official guest house of the president of the Senate which is like a sacred place like the hallowed chamber of the Senate.
“If the police and security agencies invade or storm the place, it will amount to a slap on the upper chamber. This can make the Senate to join issues with the Executive despite the fact that there is no immunity for any National Assembly leaders.
“He has also been consulting with his strategists on how to vacate the bench warrant against him by the Code of Conduct Tribunal.”
However, it was learned that, activities at the National Assembly complex had been at low ebb since the trial saga commenced.
Meanwhile, as Saraki went into the Code of Conduct Tribunal dock in Abuja on Tuesday to defend himself against allegations of false declaration of assets, his colleagues at the red chamber stayed away from the Senate.
No senator was seen at the premises while the car park was virtually empty.
Aides of the senators were, however, seen collecting and distributing rams on behalf of the lawmakers for the upcoming sallah celebrations.
By Patrick Aigbokhan