Court summons CCB to defend Saraki’s trial
The court, instead, ordered Saraki to put the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), which proffered the 13-count charge against him on notice to appear before it on September 21, 2015 to show cause why it should not be restrained from arraigning the embattled Senate president over the said charge.
The Guardian had exclusively reported that Saraki would yesterday, approach the Federal High Court seeking an interim injunction order to frustrate his trial at the tribunal.
The Senate President is being accused of false and improper declaration of assets allegedly acquired during his tenure as governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011.
Saraki, who approached the court via an exparte motion, wants the Federal Ministry of Justice, Code of Conduct Bureau and the tribunal as well as Barrister M. S Hassan stopped from taking any further step to arraign or prefer any charge against him, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit he filed before the court.
He is praying the court to declare that the Ministry of Justice has not complied with the provision of the 3rd Schedule of Section 24(1) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and the tribunal’s Act to act before proffering a charge against him.
Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed, in a ruling in his chambers, ordered the Federal Ministry of Justice, chairmen of the Code of Conduct Bureau and the tribunal and M. S. Hassan (1st to 4th respondents) to appear before him on Monday to show cause why they should not be stopped from arraigning Saraki.
The judge ordered that the respondents in the motion should be served with all the court processes, including the motion on notice for the interim order or injunction, adding that hearing notice should also be served on all the respondents.
The order, the judge said, was made pursuant to the provision or Order 26 Rule 10 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009.
In the motion exparte argued by Mahmud Magaji (SAN), Saraki said based on the provision of Section 24 of the CCB and the tribunal’s Act, his prosecution before the tribunal shall be initiated by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) or any officer directed by him (AGF).
He argued further that “in the absence of any subsisting AGF in the time being, this court has the jurisdiction to direct parties to maintain status quo pending the hearing of the motion on notice.”
According to Saraki, since there is no subsisting AGF, the charge against him by the official of the Federal Ministry of Justice before the CCT is void as the provisions of Section 24 (1) of the CCB and the Tribunal Act were not complied with.
The Senate President ought to be arraigned today before the tribunal to face the charges preferred against him.
Meanwhile, some senators have openly thrown their weight behind the Senate President, calling on the Presidency to focus on governance and not politically motivated trials of perceived enemies.
The tribunal had on the strength of a 13-count charge raised against Saraki by the CCB, summoned him to appear before it today for trial. But in separate reactions to Saraki’s trial, senators across party lines yesterday condemned the move and described it as distractive and uncalled for.
They vowed that trial or no trial, a majority of the senators will continue to support the leadership of Saraki. First to react in an interview with journalists was Senator Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi ( APC, Niger North), who said all the allegations raised against Saraki by CCB are politically motivated but will not in anyway derail the Eighth Senate from its focus on bringing about change in the positive sense, to Nigerians across the various sectors.
He said: “ I want to believe an allegation remains an allegation; and our laws are very clear. It is an allegation until it is proven; I want to believe it remains an allegation. However, let’s take a closer look at what the allegations are, dating back to 2003 to date, I think, as far as I am concerned there is something fishing about it. It is very obvious, of course we know what has happened since the inauguration of the 8th Senate.
“We will stand by our leaders because leadership is from God and as far as I am concerned, I didn’t come here because I am the best; it is just the will of God that we will be here. And based on the fact that we are here, we shall try as much as possible to deliver very good legislations that will move this country forward. Nigeria is great, and we want to make it greater. And I assure you, we will definitely not be distracted. The entire Senate is behind our leadership”.
Also condemning the planned trial of Saraki in another interview with journalists was Senator Hussain Salihu (APC, Nasarawa South), who said those trying Saraki for one thing or the other that had happened in the past were doing so because he is now the Senate President. He said those behind Saraki’s ordeals will get tired of the trials as, according to him, senators, and by extension, the Senate will not abandon him as their duly elected leader.
Similarly, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP, Abia North), said as far as majority of senators are concerned, Saraki has led the Senate creditably well in the last 100 days and will continue to give him their total support , irrespective of any distractions from any quarters.
Senator Rafiu Ibrahim alleged that the battle against Saraki was being co-ordinated by forces outside government to distract Buhari’s administration.
“It is being expected and we are even expecting more, because of the continued attempt by some people to continue to destabilise the 8th Senate for the reason that they believe they have the prerogative to choose the leadership of the Senate from outside the Senate.
“But Nigerians are watching. They know that we have continued to do our work. We are in support of all the programmes and policies of President Muhammadu Buhari; we have nothing against the government,” he said.