NewsWest AfricaNigeria senate leader Saraki pleads not guilty to fraud


Posted on Monday, 27 June 2016 15:44

Nigeria senate leader Saraki pleads not guilty to fraud

Nigeria Senate President, Bukola Saraki has pled not guilty to charges of fraud. Photo©AP/SIPANigeria's beleaguered senate president Bukola Saraki appeared at the high court in Abuja this morning pleading not guilty to charges of fraud and criminal conspiracy.

He is accused of trying to rig his way to victory at the 9 July 2015 Senate leadership elections by forging Senate documents.

Saraki was released on bail along with three others, including his deputy Ike Ekweremadu, despite opposition by government lawyers who argued Saraki's co-defendants should be remanded in custody. The case was adjourned for trial on 11 July.

There's a witch-hunt

He faces up to 14 years in jail if found guilty. In a separate case, Saraki faces a charge of false asset declaration.

The Senate leader's supporters believe the judicial onslaught is organised by APC grandee Bola Tinubu, who had wanted his own pick, Ahmed Lahwan, to have the job.

It represents the latest chapter of infighting with the ruling APC, which is still struggling to reconcile the collapse of the oil price, and the empty coffers left by the previous administration, with the ambitious spending plans of new President Muhammadu Buhari.

Prosecutors are also training their fire on former ruling party members from the PDP. Their national spokesperson Olisa Metua was arrested last month, during investigations into the disappearance of $5.5bn earmarked for the fight against Boko Haram.

“Yes, there is a witch-hunt, because there are witches all over the place,” Folarin Gbadebo-Smith, head of the Lagos-based Center for Public Policy Alternatives told Bloomberg. “There are guilty parties out there.”

Nicholas Norbrook

Nicholas Norbrook

Nicholas Norbrook is Managing Editor of The Africa Report, helping to set up the magazine in 2005. He has been a producer for Radio France International, and has lived and worked in West Africa. In 2011 he won the Diageo Business Reporting award for Journalist of the Year.

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