Bukola Saraki: Legal fireworks expected on Day 2 of CCT trial

Bukola Saraki: Legal fireworks expected on Day 2 of CCT trial

Friday, March 18, 2016 10:39 am

Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

Senate President Bukola Saraki

Senate President Bukola Saraki

Legal fireworks are expected to be on display this morning as the trial of the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki before the Code of Conduct Tribunal over alleged false assets declaration continued.

The trial, which has generated a lot of attention  was  stalled last Friday due to fresh application brought by the Senate President challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the matter.

The Court room of CCT is already full with mostly supporters of the Senate President though he is still being expected.

The trial is expected to commence at about 10 am.

And as usual, about five benches have been reserved for the Senate President and the usual horde of Senators who usually accompanied him to the court.

Chief Kanu Agabi: Saraki's lawyer

Chief Kanu Agabi: Saraki’s lawyer

The Federal Government had filed a 13 count charge bordering on false assets declaration against the Senate President.

Though Saraki had pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to him after he was docked last September,  he had however explored legal ways up to the Supreme Court to stop the trial.

But the Supreme Court had in its judgement on 5 February, asked the Senate President to go and face his trial.

Thus, at  the resumed hearing of the  trial last Friday, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs SAN had announced to the court that the business of the day was hearing and that his witnesses were in court.

He added that he had enlisted about 13 witnesses.

But Defense counsel, Kanu Agabi SAN who led other 66 lawyers caught the prosecution off guard as he informed the court that he had filed an application challenging the authority of the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate a criminal proceedings and also jurisdiction of the tribunal to entertain the matter.

Rotimi Jacobs, leads the prosecution team

Rotimi Jacobs, leads the prosecution team

Jacobs however responded that the had not been served with the application and the such application was a plot to frustrate the trial as the all the courts up to the apex had asked the defendant to go and face his trial.

Agabi responded that the application was served on the Ministry of Justice and later tendered the proof of service to the tribunal.

He however noted that it is the Ministry of Justice that is delaying the trial on ground that it should have called the attention of the prosecution counsel to the application served on it.

But Chairman of the tribunal, Danladi Umar  urged Jacobs to collect a copy of the application in court in order to proceed with the case after hot exchange of arguments between the lawyers.

After collecting the document, Jacobs requested for some time to reply.

In agreement with the parties, the tribunal later adjourned till today, Friday March 18 for hearing of the fresh application.

At last Friday’s proceedings, about 45 Senators including the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, House leader, Ali Ndume, among others had accompanied him to the tribunal.

The senators had arrived the venue of the tribunal at about 10:13am in two coastal buses belonging to the National Assembly.

Also, supporters of Saraki were seen outside the premises of the tribunal with different inscriptions in support of the Senate President.

In the new application, brought pursuant to Sections 36(6)(a)(b), 36(12) and Paragraph 15 of the First Schedule of the 1999 constitution: Section 3(1) of the Third Schedule of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, Saraki is praying for an order quashing or striking out of the charges against him.

He is also praying for an order of the tribunal discharging him from the charge.

He premised his application on grounds that the tribunal lacks jurisdiction to entertain the charge because a condition precedent to the exercise of the jurisdiction has not been fulfilled.

He further submitted that the charge was brought in bad faith and that it was not brought in the interest of the public.

In addition, Saraki submitted that the charge constitutes a gross abuse of the legal process and that the charge is violation of all due process and in violation of his right to fair hearing as enshrined in the constitution.

He further noted that the charge cannot lie at the instance of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

Responding, Jacobs noted that both Appeal Court and the Supreme Court had ruled on the application brought by Saraki.

He insisted that application is just to frustrate the trial.

“This is the first time, I will be seeing a defendant given us problem. They go to the press to tell them that we are persecuting him. I have prosecuted two former governors, I did not receive this type of attack”, Jacobs stated.

The Defence and the Prosecution counsels are expected to defend their stand as they argue the briefs this morning.

Join The Conversation

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.