Trial: Is Appeal Court keeping Saraki in suspense

Defers judgement indefinitely in suit to stop prosecution

Senate President Bukola Saraki still has a long wait ahead of him to know the outcome of his bid to stop his trial by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for alleged false declaration of assets. His bid to get the Court of Appeal to quash his arraignment and trial suffered a major setback yesterday as the court adjourned judgement indefinitely in Saraki’s appeal challenging his trial by the CCT.

The appellate court, on Friday, had fixed yesterday to deliver judgement in the appeal after taking final arguments from counsel to parties in the suit. But when the parties in the suit and other members of the public arrived in court yesterday, they were told the judgement was not ready. One of the court clerks, Mrs. Christy Haruna, announced the postponement of the judgement at an open court.

“I have been instructed by the court to inform parties and interested members of the public that a new date for the ruling shall be communicated,” she said. The court did not give any reason why it could not deliver the judgement.

At the last hearing of the suit last Friday, Saraki’s counsel, Joseph Daudu (SAN) who led Yusuf Ali, Adebayo Adelodun, Mahmud Magaji, Ahmed Raji and Kayode Eleja, all SANs, to argue the case, raised five major issues for determination by the court. Among others, the appellant counsel argued that the CCT erred in law by proceeding with the trial with two members, instead of the mandatory three as provided by the constitution.

He argued that the composition of the tribunal during the trial of Saraki violated paragraphs 15(1) of the 1999 Constitution and asked the court to nullify the CCT proceedings of last month due to lack of quorum.

The appellant counsel disagreed with the arguments of the Federal Government counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), that the Interpretation Act can be used to resolve the constitutional logjam since the constitution was silent on the quorum for the tribunal membership.

Daudu countered that the Interpretation Act cannot override the constitution being the supreme law and the Act being inferior to the constitution. He also argued that the tribunal was wrong in assuming criminal jurisdiction against the Senate president’s trial when it was not a superior court of record.

Daudu, who cited several authorities, submitted that the tribunal could not assume concurrent jurisdiction with the Federal High Court, adding that the CCT was, by law, inferior to the Federal High Court.

He, therefore, urged the Court of Appeal to nullify the proceedings of the tribunal against Saraki and set aside the criminal charges filed against him by the Federal Government because they are illegal and unlawful. However, opposing the submissions of Saraki’s counsel, Jacobs asked that the appeal case be dismissed for lacking merit.

Jacobs told the threeman appeal panel that the constitution was silent on the quorum of the tribunal memberships. He urged the court to invoke the Interpretation Act to resolve the issue in favour of the respondent.

The respondent’s counsel also submitted that the tribunal has criminal jurisdiction because of the use of words like “guilty” and “punishment” in the law that established the tribunal.

The presiding judge, Justice Morri Adumein, however, struck out an application by Saraki praying for a stay of further proceedings at the tribunal because events have overtaken the application with the hearing of the substantive matter

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