Friday, February 5, 2016 10:31 am
Senate President, Bukola Saraki has failed to stop his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
In a unanimous decision read by Justice Samuel Walter Onnoghen, the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal in a split decision, 2-1, ruled in October that the CCT was right to try Saraki on a 13 count charge of false assets declaration.
All the six issues raised against the appeal court judgment by Saraki were resolved in favour of the prosecution.
Saraki pleaded not guilty to the 13 count charge when he was arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal in September, 2015.
But Saraki attended the trial only after efforts to use the courts to evade his arraignment ended in failure.
Indeed, the tribunal had to issue a bench warrant for his arrest to force him to attend the trial.
Government said it is ready to prosecute the Senate President and has all the evidence to send him to jail ready.
Determined to stop the trial which he claimed was politically motivated, the Senate President had dragged the Federal Government to Appeal Court after his efforts to use the Federal High Court to stop his arraignment ended in failure.
The Senate President had in the suit filed before the court challenged the jurisdiction of the CCT to try him for alleged false declaration of assets.
He particularly challenged the composition of the tribunal and the legality of the charge, which he said was not endorsed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
He also complained that the Tribunal should be sitting with three members and not two as it did when he was arraigned before it.
The Court of Appeal in a split 2:1 decision delivered on 30 October held that Saraki’s appeal lacked merit.
But the Senate President promptly appealed the judgment.
In the appeal he filed at the Supreme Court, the Senate President asked the apex court to determine if the Chairman and a member of the Tribunal can legally conduct proceedings where the Constitution says it must be constituted by two members and a Chairman and whether the Tribunal is right to have assumed juridisction to try him.
Joseph Daudu (SAN), lawyer to the Senate President had in the argument before the Supreme Court on 3 December said the CCT was wrong to have assumed jurisdiction over the Senate President’s trial because it was not properly constituted.
But Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Federal Government’s lawyer asked the court to dismiss the appeal.
He argued that the court was properly constituted and has the juridisction to try Saraki among other arguments.
After listening to the arguments of the lawyers, the apex court has asked the CCT to suspend the trial of the Senate President pending delivery of its judgment today.
The order of Supreme Court Justices to CCT to suspend trial of Saraki pending its judgment was criticised by some lawyers, notably Barrister Femi Falana, SAN who argued that it is against the provision of Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
According to the lawyers, the Act does not allow for suspension of trial because of interlocutory appeal.