Senator Bukola Saraki, Nigeria’s Senate President
The Court of Appeal on Friday fixed Oct.19 to deliver judgment in the appeal filed by Senate President, Bukola Saraki challenging his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
Saraki is facing trial at the CCT on charges of alleged false declaration of his assets.
Justice Moore Adumein, who led two other justices of the court, fixed the date for judgment after entertaining arguments from counsel to parties in the suit.
At the hearing, counsel to Saraki, Mr Joseph Daudu (SAN) raised five major issues for determination by the court.
Daudu averred that the CCT erred in law by proceeding with the trial of his client with two members instead of the mandatory three members as provided by the constitution.
“The composition of the tribunal during the trial of my client violated paragraphs 15(1) of the 1999 Constitution by sitting with two members instead of three.
“My Lord we are seeking the court’s understanding to nullify the CCT proceedings of last month due to lack of quorum,” he said.
Daudu further held that the tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to try criminal matter which formed part of the charges.
He objected to the arguments of Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) Counsel to the Federal Government on the Interpretation Act.
He therefore urged the court to discountenance the prosecution’s argument that the Act could be used to resolve the constitutional logjam since the constitution was silent on the quorum for membership of the tribunal.
Daudu insisted that the Interpretation Act could not override the constitution being the supreme law.
“To ask that the Act of Interpretation be used to override constitutional provision is wrong and unheard off.
“That in itself will amount to product of mis-interpretation because the constitution is the supreme law and not an Act,” he argued.
The counsel also argued that the tribunal was wrong in assuming criminal jurisdiction against the Senate President 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 tribunal was by law inferior.
He therefore, urged the appeal court to nullify the proceedings of the tribunal against Saraki and set aside criminal charges filed against him.
On his part, the prosecution urged the appellate court to dismiss the arguments advanced by the applicant’s counsel for lacking in merit.
Jacobs held that the constitution was silent on the quorum of membership of the tribunal in handling of cases.
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 had criminal jurisdiction because of the use of words like “guilty” and “punishment” in the law that established it.
The presiding Judge struck out an application by Saraki praying for a stay of further proceedings at the tribunal.
The Judge said the court was compelled to do that because the grounds on which the prayers rested had been overtaken with the hearing of the substantive matter.
“On the whole, the court has listened to all the issues raised; therefore, ruling is fixed for Oct. 19.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr Umar Danladi had assumed jurisdiction on the matter. (