Corruption Trial of Nigerian Senate President Bukola Saraki Will Go Ahead

Bukola Saraki, president of the Nigerian Senate, with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
President of the Senate of Nigeria Bukola Saraki, left, pictured giving a letter of confirmation to President Muhammadu Buhari, right, has lost his appeal in the Nigerian Supreme Court against a corruption trial. Stringer/Reuters

The Nigerian Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Bukola Saraki, the president of the Nigerian senate, against his trial for alleged corruption offenses.

Saraki is facing 13 counts of false declaration of assets and is due to be tried by the Court of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). He denies all the charges and went to the Court of Appeal to challenge the jurisdiction of the CCT, the BBC reports. When the Court of Appeal dismissed his challenge on October 30, 2015, Nigeria's Premium Times reports, Saraki appealed to the Supreme Court on November 4, 2015.

On Friday, the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal's ruling.

Saraki is the third-highest ranking political officer in the country and could be banned from holding any political officer for 10 years if he is found guilty. He will now face trial at the CCT, though a date has not yet been set.

The Senate president expressed his disappointment at the ruling but "believes he will have his day in the court to prove his innocence," a statement issued by Saraki's media advisor Yusuph Olaniyonu on Friday said.

Among the allegations against Saraki are that he held a foreign bank account while in public office and that he acquired wealth beyond his legitimate earnings, according to Premium Times. The offenses violate the fifth schedule of Nigeria's constitution and are alleged to have taken place while Saraki was governor of Kwara state in western Nigeria between 2003 and 2011. He was elected president of the Senate in 2015.

Nigeria's National Assembly is bicameral, meaning there are upper and lower houses. The lower house is the House of Representatives and the upper house is the Senate.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has made cracking down on government corruption a signature of his administration. A 2015 report by the country's anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, found that more than $2 billion of government funds earmarked for procuring arms to fight Boko Haram has gone missing since 2007. The investigation has resulted in several high-profile arrests, including that of former national security advisor Sambo Dasuki.

Saraki's trial is not connected to the arms corruption scandal.