FROM: GODWIN TSA, ABUJA
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed the suit filed by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki challenging his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for lacking in merit and an abuse of the court process.
In the suit filed and argued by his counsel, Mr. Ajibola Oluyede, Saraki alleged in the suit that the charges preferred against him before the CCT had infringed on his right to fair hearing.
The respondents to the suit are the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase.
Others are the Code of Conduct Bureau, the CCT; the CCT chairman, Danladi Umar; the second member of the CCT panel, Mr. Ataedzeagu Adza, CCB chairman, Mr. Sam Saba; Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Diri; and a Deputy Director in the ministry, Mr. Muslim Hassan (now a judge of the Federal High Court).
He specifically argued the failure of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to invite him and confront him with the alleged infractions in his assets declaration forms before filing the charges constituted a breach of his fundamental human rights to fair hearing and by extension rendered the charges a nullity.
The Senate President therefore sought an order nullifying the charges and the proceedings of the CCT on the grounds that they allegedly fell short of the requirements of Article 3 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.
Besides, Saraki also sought an order restraining the AGF, EFCC, ICPC, IG and CCB from prosecuting him, based on the offences he allegedly committed while serving as Kwara State governor.
But in his judgment Friday, Justice Kafarati dismissed the case on the ground that the fear by Saraki that he would not get justice at the CCT was speculative, misplaced and has no place in law.
Justice Kafarati held that the claims by Saraki do not fall under any of the provisions of Chapter 4 of the 1999 constitution dealing with fundamental human rights.
On the argument that the Code of Conduct Tribunal lacked jurisdiction to trial him, Justice Kafarati disagreed saying the tribunal is a competent one which derives its powers from the 1999 constitution and the Act establishing it.
The judge further held that Saraki cannot claim that his trial before the tribunal has infringed on his fundamental human rights as there are safe guides in the constitution to protect suspects against any abuse of their rights, especially in criminal trials where the test of proof is beyond reasonable doubt.
“A criminal investigation or trial remains what it is. All an accused person needs to do is to raise a no case submission and if it is upheld by the court, that is the end of the case.
“This court cannot interfere with the charges before the CCT as doing so will amount to interfering with the proceedings before the tribunal.
“Prayer four is talking of political issues. This is a matter of sentiment and has no legal basis.
However, the camps of the Senate President have faulted the judgment, alleging that it was compromised.
Although his counsel, Ajibola Oluyede did not expressly say he was heading to the Court of Appeal, he said he was going to study it and discuss with his client on what to do.
But those who spoke with Saturday Sun on condition of anonymity queried the decision of the court.
For instance, a close associate of the Senate President who was in court asked rhetorically, “is today’s judgement the same judgement he wanted to deliver on March 22, 2016, wherein he claimed that the Sahara Reporters maligned him. What is the essence of his returning the case file to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.?
“Or was he forced to deliver today’s judgement to save his neck from the corruption allegation from the EFCC? Why did he slate to give the judgement at 9 am and later deferred it to 11. 30 am”?