- Again, Appeal Court Asks Saraki to Face CCT Trial
The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Thursday dismissed an appeal filed by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to challenge his ongoing trial on charges bordering on asset declaration breaches.
The Justice Abdul Aboki-led panel ruled that, contrary to Saraki’s contention, the CCT had jurisdiction to entertain the charges instituted against him by the Federal Government.
The judgment of the Court of the Appeal on Thursday cleared any possible legal hurdle capable of preventing the Senate President’s trial from continuing on November 7, as already scheduled by the CCT.
It was the second time the appeal court would be delivering judgment on the same subject matter of jurisdiction of the CCT to try the Senate President.
The Court of Appeal had October 30, 2015, ruled against Saraki on the jurisdiction of the CCT and asked him to proceed to face the 16 counts preferred against him.
The judgment of the appeal court was affirmed by the Supreme Court in a judgment it delivered on February 5, 2016.
On Thursday, all the five members of the appeal court panel unanimously agreed with the lead judgment delivered by Justice Aboki, who resolved all the eight issues formulated for determination against Saraki.
In affirming the earlier ruling of the Danladi Umar-led CCT affirming the tribunal’s jurisdiction, the appeal court upheld all the grounds of objection to the appeal filed by the Federal Government’s lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN).
Justice Aboki held among others that contrary to Saraki’s contention, the Attorney General of the Federation had the power to institute charges against him before the CCT.
He also held that under the constitution, the Code of Conduct Bureau was not under any obligation to invite the appellant to enable him to make a written admission of breaches in his asset declaration forms before charges could be initiated against him.
Justice Aboki ruled, “It held that failure to invite him by the CCB before the charges were filed did not amount to a breach of his constitutional rights to fair hearing and to be tried within reasonable time as provided for under section 35 and 36 of the constitution.
The appeal court held that the tribunal had rightly departed from its earlier decision exonerating a former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, on account that he was not invited by the CCB to confront him with the allegations levelled against him.
It also strike down the provisions of the CCB/T Act relied upon by Saraki’s lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), to make the submission.
Justice Aboki ruled, “The provision relied upon by the appellant is a slippery ground; it cannot stand side by side with the provisions of paragraphs 3(d) and (e) of the 1st Schedule to the constitution.
Justice Aboki also rejected that the submission by Saraki that the charges were politically motivated because they were initiated 13 years after the offences were allegedly committed.