An effort by Senate President Bukola Saraki to stop his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has been thwarted.
The appeal court has upheld the trial of the Senate president on 13 counts over a false assets’ declaration.
In a ruling this morning, October 30, Justice Moore Adumen of the Court of Appeal, reading the unanimous verdict of the three-man panel, said the tribunal, which tried the Senate president on September 22 and on October 21, was properly constituted, PM news reports.
Adumen added that the tribunal led by Danladi Umar could sit with the chairman and one other member.
Indicating why the verdict was delayed, Adumen said that the earlier scheduled date, October 19, had to be shifted at the eleventh hour, because the justices had to struggle to reach an agreement.
Adumen noted that the justices relied on section 28 of the Interpretation Act to reach the decision.
Whereas Justice Moore Adumein dismissed the appeal that was lodged by Saraki as lacking in merit, Justice J.E. Ekanem, one of the members three-man panel of justice, quashed the charge and discharged Saraki on the basis that the Deputy Director at the Ministry of Justice, M. M. S. Hassan who signed the charge, did not specify who authorized him to initiate the criminal proceeding.
Ekanem said: “A look at the charge showed that M. M.S Hassan instituted the action pursuant to section 24 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, 2004 which permits only the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings.
“Though the constitution permits the Solicitor-General of the Federation, SGF, to commence criminal action in the absence of the AGF, Hassan failed to produce any document showing that he was properly authorised by the SGF.
“The opening paragraph of the letter Hassan sent to the CCT on September 11, wherein he applied to commence trial against the appellant is very instructive.
“He merely said ‘ I am authorised to file this action’ but did not say that he was authorised by the Solicitor-General. He went short of identifying who authorised him.
“It is therefore my view that the charge before the tribunal is incompetent. It is for this view that I hold that this appeal has succeeded and I hereby set-aside the charge and discharge the accused person.”
The CCB had filed a 13-count corruption charge against Saraki for failing to declare his assets fully, alleging that he misused state funds to purchase private assets while serving as Kwara state governor.
However, Saraki’s lawyer, Mahmud Magaji (SAN) had urged the court to expeditiously determine his client’s appeal on the grounds that time was very important in the on-going case.
Along with the appeal, the Senate president’s lawyers also filed an application seeking for proceedings before the CCT to cease pending the determination of his appeal. Saraki wanted the appellate court to stop his trial at the CCT.