CCT adjourns Saraki’s trial till March 18
The commencement of the trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct tribunal was stalled on Friday after his lawyer filed a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the suit.
Kanu Agabi, SAN, a new lead counsel to Saraki said his motion must be heard before the trial can begin. The tribunal then adjourned proceedings until March 18, 2016.
Saraki was arraigned before the tribunal last year on a 13-count charge of alleged false declaration of assets while he was the governor of Kwara State.
An appeal filed by the senate president at the Supreme Court to challenge the tribunal’s jurisdiction and whether it formed a quorum to hear the case stalled proceedings in the case.
The Supreme Court on February 5, this year dismissed his appeal and directed him to submit himself to trial.
While countering Agabi’s argument at the tribunal on Friday, the lead prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) said Saraki’s lawyer filed the motion to deliberately stall the trial, pointing out the validation of the tribunal’s right to try Saraki by the Supreme Court.
He argued that since the Senate President claimed he was innocent of the charges preferred against him, he should allow the trial to commence in order for him to prove his innocence.
On Friday morning, the Senate President in a statement signed by his deputy chief of staff, Gbenga Makanjuola, said he would appear before the tribunal ” to totally submit himself to the due process of the law.”
He described the suit that brought him before the tribunal as ‘illegitimate’ while noting that the tribunal has not been fair to him.
“As Nigerians carefully follow the proceedings of the case, we must all be guided by the fact that a basic scrutiny of Section 3, Paragraph D of the Act that establishes the CCT and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) state in explicit terms that before any complaint (if any) is forwarded to the CCT for adjudication, the public officer against whom a complaint is made must be given the opportunity to either deny or admit the claims by the Bureau. As it stands, Nigerians must ask why this fundamental and indispensable condition for a trial at the CCT has not been followed.
“What this means is: the condition precedent mandates that Dr. Saraki – as every other citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is entitled to – should have been given the opportunity to explain any perceived inaccuracy, but he was never given the opportunity to do so.
“Secondly and more crucially, the application submitted by the Senate President draws attention to the fact that the 13-year-old declaration forms on which the majority of the impending suit is predicated, were examined and investigated by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) at the time of submission and were found satisfactory to the Bureau’s requirements at the time.”