With his trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal scheduled for Friday, March 11, 2016, Senate President Bukola Saraki’s aides have given bribes to judiciary numerous reporters based in Abuja in order to shape the reporting of the trial, two reliable sources have confirmed to SaharaReporters.
An undercover investigator for SaharaReporters was present when Mr. Saraki’s aides met with Judiciary reporters inside an Abuja garden called Nelson Nuek Gardens, and handed each of the reporters the sum of N50,000. The garden is located in the Central Business District of Abuja, quite close to the International Conference Center.
Our major source, who was present at the parley, disclosed that all the judiciary reporters covering Mr. Saraki’s case attended the meeting where bribes were handed out.
Our two sources disclosed that Chuks Okocha, a special assistant to the Senate President, distributed Mr. Saraki’s cash largesse to the reporters. At the meeting, the senator’s aides struck a deal with the reporters to have only one of the friendly reporters write a report of the trial which would then be syndicated among all the reporters. It was agreed that each reporter would merely retouch the syndicated report and send it to their medium.
Before his appointment as Mr. Saraki’s aide, Mr. Okocha had worked for Thisday newspaper group, owned by Nduka Obaigbena.
One of our sources revealed that Mr. Okocha warned the reporters that the Senate President’s office would not tolerate any negative reports by the reporters who collected the bribe. Saraki’s spokesperson Yusuf Olaniyonu was being awaited when our investigator left the meeting.
Senator Saraki is being prosecuted for alleged false declaration of assets. All his attempts to use political contacts and appellate courts to scuttle his trial failed. Last week, he unveiled a new legal team led by a former Attorney General of Nigeria, Kanu Agabi, who once supervised the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danlami Umar, and who while as a minister of justice recruited Rotimi Jacobs, the chief prosecutor against Mr. Saraki.