CCT lacks jurisdiction to hear charges against me, Saraki insists
• It is an academic argument, says tribunal
• Supreme Court fixes Feb. 5 for ruling
THE Supreme Court yesterday set down 5th of February, next year to deliver sjudgment in the appeal brought before it by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, wherein he is challenging the decision of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to assume jurisdiction over his trial.
Saraki was arraigned for trial before the CCT on a- 13-count charge relating to false assets declaration and money laundering preferred against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
The embattled Senate President had, upon his arraignment, filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the CCT to try him, but his objection was rejected as it assumed jurisdiction.
Dissatisfied, Saraki approached the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division to upturn the CCT decision. But in a split decision of two-to-one, the appellate court dismissed Saraki’s appeal and upheld the tribunal’s decision to assume jurisdiction to try him.
Again not satisfied, Saraki approached the Supreme Court, seeking to get a reprieve by upturning the decision of the CCT, which was affirmed by the Appeal Court.
And at the hearing of the appeal yesterday, Joseph Daudu (SAN), prayed the Supreme Court to hear the appeal, insisting that the tribunal has no jurisdiction to hear and determine the charges against Saraki.
According to Daudu, the CCT, which is only a disciplinary panel constituted to deal with breaches by public office holders does not carry criminal conviction.
Daudu said if the seven-member panel of the apex court, presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed allows the tribunal to sit as criminal court, it will have far reaching implication on the jurisprudence.
But the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said an academic questions by the defence counsel cannot prevail on the constitution, claiming that the constitution allows the tribunal to have two members to sit and hear a matter.
According to Jacobs, the law does not stipulate how many of the judges should sit on a matter. He urged the apex court to hold that two members can conduct the business of the tribunal. Accordingly, Jacobs prayed the Supreme Court to dismiss Saraki’s appeal.
It will be recalled that the Supreme Court, on November 12, directed the CCT to suspend proceedings in the trial pending determination of the appeal.
This followed an undertaking by Jacobs to prevail on the tribunal not to proceed with trial until the apex court’s pronouncement on Saraki’s appeal.