Human right lawyers have reacted to Friday, February 5, 2016, judgments by the Supreme Court that Nigeria’s Senate President, Bukola Saraki will face trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). They added that the scenario is a total embarrassment to the Senate and Nigeria as a whole.
Speaking on the fate of the embattled Senate President at the CCT, Barrister John Itodo said, “Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, he doesn’t have a choice than to face the trial at the tribunal. His fate at the tribunal now depends largely on the defence counsels and the prosecution counsels as well. If his counsel can put a strong defence in his favour and have a superior argument against the prosecution in the matter, he can win the case. But if they allow the prosecution counsels to puncture their case with strong cross-examination, that means Saraki is gone. So, his fate to remain Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria depends on the outcome of the CCT which he has to face.”
Reacting on the issue, Barrister Mohammed Fawehinmi enjoined Saraki to step down for his deputy, Senator Ike Ekeweremadu and save the Senate from undue embarrassment, adding that the case before the CCT has to do with the test of integrity which the Senate President is now found wanting by allegedly indulging in false asset declaration.
“First, Saraki has to subject himself to the law. So, he has to face the CCT. What the Supreme Court did was in order. And according to Section 172 of Nigerian constitution, any official in the employment of the Federal Government is subject to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). And if you make a mistake in the face of declaration or false declaration or any anticipating declaration, it constitutes a criminal offence for which you’re subjected to face trial at the CCT.
“It’s an integrity test for Saraki. If I were him, I will just resign or step down for the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu to continue because his case is an embarrassment to the Senate. There is no likelihood of surviving the trial.”
Corroborating the earlier submissions, another human
rights lawyer and public communicator, Barrister Chris Nwaokobia stated, “First, Saraki has to face the trial. But it’s unfortunate that he may lose out because he has a very bad case before the CCT. And it has to do with the integrity of the Nigerian judicial system apart from that of the Senate itself.
He just has to face the trial, he has no choice. But if I were him, I would just resign to save the Nigerian Senate from undue embarrassment. He can’t hold the whole Senate to ransom because you have a case at the tribunal. And if you’re guilty, you will be convicted. That means automatically you’re gone. You can see now that Senator Lawan’s group are regrouping against him, they’re smelling the outcome of the trial. If he refuses to step down, they can impeach him so as to save the Senate from further embarrassment.”
On Friday, February 5, 2016, Supreme Court ruled that Nigeria’s Senate President, Bukola Saraki will face trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). A seven-man panel at the Supreme Court rejected his appeal
challenging the decision of the apex court which upheld his trial at the tribunal.
A three judge panel of the Supreme Court led by a retiring Justice Fabiyi had on Friday, December 4, 2016, ordered a stay of proceeding by the tribunal; pending the determination of Dr. Saraki’s appeal.
The court also asked counsels on both sides to submit their briefs of arguments within 14 days. The court then fixed Friday, February 5, 2016, to deliver its judgment.
Dr. Saraki’s appeal before the apex court contends that the CCT lacks jurisdiction to try him, arguing that the tribunal was not duly constituted as it comprised two instead of three members provided for the constitution.