Saraki must appear at tribunal today, say courts
THERE may be no option left for the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, as the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) and the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, yesterday insisted he must appear today at the tribunal to take his plea on charges of false declaration of assets brought against him by the Federal Government.
The Appellate Court and the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, in two separate rulings yesterday, refused the ex-parte applications brought by Saraki seeking to stop his arrest by the police and stay of proceedings before the CCT over alleged false assets declaration.
Saraki had pleaded with the Federal High Court to stop the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the tribunal from prosecuting him on the ground that he was already before the court to challenge the power of the tribunal to hear the criminal charges against him.
He had also prayed the Court of Appeal to stay the order of arrest made by the tribunal against him and to also stay proceedings of the code of conduct tribunal.
In his ruling at the Federal High Court, the trial judge, Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed refused the application on the ground that Saraki and defendants in his suit had already joined issues with each other.
The judge adjourned till September 30 for hearing of the substantive suit.
At the Court of Appeal, Saraki’s counsel, Adebayo Adelodun (SAN), had through an ex-parte application prayed the court to set aside the order of arrest on Saraki and to stay the proceedings at the tribunal.
Ruling on the application, the presiding judge, Justice Moore Adumein, however, held that by Section 15 of the Court of Appeal Act 2004 as amended, the Court of Appeal has general power to make interim orders.
Meanwhile, Saraki has promised appear at the tribunal today to answer to the charges leveled against him.
Speaking to journalists at the National Assembly yesterday, the Senate president stated that as a law-abiding citizen, he wanted to ensure that due process is followed. Saraki said he had nothing to hide, just as he declared his continued confidence in the Judiciary.
On why he delayed before honouring the invitation of the CCT, Saraki said he believed that he has an inalienable right to resort to the same judiciary for protection when he feels his fundamental rights are about to be infringed upon.
He said his absence from the tribunal was based on legal advice he received from his counsel that it was not necessary for him to appear before the tribunal yet since the jurisdiction of the tribunal and the process of initiating the matter were being challenged before the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Saraki further explained that following the adjournment for the determination of the motion on notice and the substantive suit before the Federal High Court to 30th of September, and the appeal pending before the Court of Appeal adjourned to the 29th of September 2015, he has decided, as a law abiding citizen, to appear before the tribunal in the interim to demonstrate his respect for the rule of law in spite of his personal reservation on the process of his trial and the purpose it may be intended to serve.
He assured Nigerians of his absolute belief in the judicial process and he is therefore confident that the course of justice would be served at the end of this matter.
Also yesterday, some Senators were seen rushing in and out of the Office of the Senate President as they came in turns to express solidarity with Saraki.
Among those who visited Saraki were Mohammed Ohiare (APC, Kogi Central), Binta Garba (APC, Adamawa North), Olaka Nwogu (PDP, Rivers South East), Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC, Kebbi South), Hope Uzodinma (PDP, Imo West), Abdulrahman Abubakar (APC, Kogi East), Theodore Orji (PDP, Abia Central), Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP, Abia North), Obinna Ogba (PDP, Ebonyi Central), Kabiru Gaya (APC, Kano South) and Sunny Ogbuoji (PDP, Ebonyi South).
Meanwhile,the Presidency has denied insinuation in some quarters that President Muhammadu Buhari is responsible for the ordeal of the Senate President, describing it as uncharitable, and those who hold such opinion as unfair to the Buhari.