Code of Conduct enshrined in Nigeria’s Constitution and its importance in fight against corruption -Part 3
Continued from Tuesday last week
And if he does sit, his decision cannot stand. However, it is necessary that there must be circumstances from which a reasonable man would think it likely or probable that the justice, or chairman, as the case may be, of a tribunal would or did favour one side unfairly at the expense of the other. The Court will not inquire whether he did, in fact, favour one side unfairly. Suffice it to think that people might think it did. The plain reason for this is that justice is rooted in confidence; and confidence is destroyed when right-minded people go away thinking: the Judge is biased.”
9.4 Looking at all the circumstances: the move which made Saraki the Senate President to the chagrin of those behind the powers that-be; the bringing of breach of code of conduct charge against Saraki based on false declaration of assets way back (some 10 years ago) as Governor of Kwara State this time; the Chairman of Code of Conduct Tribunal docked Saraki as if a criminal before it; the criminal charge against the Chairman, which is not being prosecuted now, may propel him to be hard on Saraki in the hope that could finally spare him being prosecuted of the alleged criminal charge; and that was how he was refused an application by him for stay of proceedings pending an appeal against the jurisdiction of the Tribunal in spite of the well-known principle on that issue! What else is needed to come to the conclusion that there is a real likelihood of bias which may deny Saraki justice?
10.1 I will leave the matter at that. It is a convenient point to end my presentation. I need to remark, however, that the tendency to get the Code of Conduct Tribunal and probably similar bodies to intrude into the administration of criminal justice is not a welcome development. It is indeed a challenge to our constitutional democracy which puts the liberty of individuals at risk. It is also a challenge to the foresight of anyone who fails to appreciate this dire consequence.
Uwaifo, (CON.) a former Justice of the Supreme Court presented this paper at the inaugural seminar of Ben Nwabueze Centre for Studies in Constitutional Law and Related Subjects held at Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island Lagos on March 24, 2016.
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