Drama as Saraki’s lawyer walks out on CCT
It was bizarre drama at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Thursday as lawyers representing the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki walked out on the two-man panel of the Tribunal in Abuja in protest of its decision to proceed with their client’s trial without prejudice to his pending appeal at the Supreme Court.
Saraki was charged for alleged false declaration of assets during his reign as governor of Kwara state.
The embattled senate President had, through his legal team made up of three Senior Advocated who include Mahmud Magaji, Saka Isau and Ahmed Raji, raised a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to entertain the matter.
But the tribunal after hearing arguments on the said objection, dismissed it as it ruled that it had the powers to sit over the matter.
Dissatisfied, Saraki approached the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, seeking to upturn the tribunal decision, an appeal which has since failed as the Court of Appeal affirmed the jurisdiction of the tribunal to entertain the case.
When the matter came up today, the Federal Government told the tribunal that it was ready to open its case against the Senate President.
FG’s counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) informed the tribunal that on October 30, the Court of Appeal dismissed Saraki’s appeal against his trial and affirmed its jurisdiction
“My Lords all the contention as to the jurisdiction of the tribunal has been settled. The Appeal Court held that the charge was proper and the tribunal properly constituted to sit with two members.
“We have the Certified True Copy of that judgment. This matter was adjourned for report and for continuation of trial, we are ready”, Rotimi submitted.
But Saraki, counsel, Mahmud Magaji (SAN) drew the attention if the tribunal to a pending appeal at the apex court and accordingly prayed it to adjourn the trial and await the decision of the Supreme Court on the issue of jurisdiction.
He also reminded the court of an application for the stay of further proceeding on the matter pending the determination of the appeal at the supreme court.
He said that the CCT was notified of the pendency of the appeal before the Supreme Court via a letter that was addressed to its chairman on November 4.
“In essence, we are saying that we have a valid appeal before your lordships at the Supreme Court”, saying for the tribunal to proceed with hearing on the matter would amount to an affront and disrespect to the judicial hierarchy.
In his ruling on the argument, the tribunal declined Saraki’s counsel’s request for an adjournment based on the provisions of the new Administration Criminal Justice Act, which it held was not in favour of adjournments over interlocutory appeals.
In reaction to the decision, Magaji (SAN) announced that it was staging a walkout on behalf of the defence team and described the tribunal’s decision to proceed with the trial as amounting to judicial rascality.
Magaji and his brothers SANs in the defence team, led about 30 junior lawyers, who accompanied them to proceedings, out of the court.
The tribunal has adjourned till November 19 for trial.