Supreme Court adjourns Bukola Saraki’s alleged false asset case to February

Bukola-Saraki-660x330 senateThe Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned hearing on the trial of the senate president, Bukola Saraki, to February 2016.

Mr. Saraki appealed to the highest court to quash his trial by the Code of Conduct Bureau, which accuses him of false asset declaration and fraud.

He denies all 13 charges against him.

An earlier challenge at the court of appeal failed. The court directed the trial to continue.

Hearing on an appeal before the Supreme Court continued Thursday, as counsels from the two sides canvassed their cases.

The Chief Justice of the Federation, Mahmud Mohamed, presided over the case with six other judges in attendance.

Mr. Mohammed explained that the sitting started late on Thursday because they judges tried to resolve whether they were dealing with a criminal or constitutional matter.

The lead counsel to Mr. Saraki, Joseph Daudu, raised concerns with the composition of the Code of Conduct Tribunal bench.

Mr. Daudu said for the tribunal to form a quorum, the chairman must sit with at least two members of the bench.

He noted that the Supreme Court always had odd number of judges at sittings adding that the case should not be so different with the tribunal.

He said the presence of the chairman and one member meant that the sitting had only two members of the bench at the CCT, which he said could give room for an abuse of powers by the chairman, in the event of a tie.

The chief justice said it was unnecessary to speculate and urged Mr. Daudu to wait until there was a tie.

Mr. Daudu further argued that the Code of Conduct Tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to try the matter, saying the tribunal, by law, could only treat issues relating to breach of conduct.

He said cases like bribery, which the tribunal can entertain, were mainly because they were related to a breach of conduct – and not that they were criminal cases.

He also said section 25(2) of the Code Conduct Tribunal Act requires that the Attorney General must be the one to initiate charges.

The CCB lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs, however argued that based on sections 284 of the Constitution, two members could form a quorum at the tribunal.

Mr. Jacobs said the tribunal had the right to exercise criminal jurisdiction, based on paragraph 17, third schedule of the CCTA.

He therefore prayed the court to dismiss the case.

After a brief deliberation on the matter, the presiding judge, Mr. Mohammed, adjourned the matter to February 5, 2015.

Mr. Mohammed appealed for the understanding of both counsels on the date of adjournment.

He said the Supreme Court already had a mass of cases pending.

Mr. Saraki was not present at Thursday’s sitting. -Premium Times

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