Lawyers speak on Senate President’s fate as he loses appeal against CCT trial
-embattled Senate President takes case to Supreme Court
-the judgment shows nobody is above the law- they chorus
-We won’t interfere with the trial, the judicial process will run its full course’- APC
Like a long-running series, the latest twist in the Bukola Saraki versus Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) case has gripped the polity, keeping many glued to the dailies.
On Friday, October 30, 2015, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja dismissed the former Kwara state governor’s appeal challenging his trial on a 13-count charge bordering on false asset declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
By a two-to-one split decision, the three-man panel of the appellate court held that the appeal lacked merit on all six grounds of the appeal by the Senate President.
It dismissed the grounds that the charges were not properly served on him, that the tribunal was not duly constituted because it comprised of two members instead of three and that absence of the Attorney-General of the Federation had rendered the charges incompetent.
Dismissing the appeal were Justices Moore Adumein (who led the panel) and Mohammed Mustapha; while Justice Joseph Ekanem upheld it.
ENCOMIUM Weekly spoke with foremost legal practitioner and rights activist, Fred Agbaje for a legal interpretation of the latest in the ongoing saga. His response:
“That judgment adhered to the rule of law and democracy in Nigeria. It has also exemplified the Nigerian judiciary as the bastion of hope for the oppressed and helping to develop the Nigerian constitutional law viz a viz the responsibility of every citizen towards the existing laws”.
On what he thinks would be the fate of the former governor of Kwara state, he said, “the Supreme Court might disagree with the Court of Appeal. Either way, the Nigerian legal system and the principle of constitutionalism would have been better enhanced. It also shows that nobody is above the law”.
We also sought the thoughts of Mohammed Fawehinmi, a legal practitioner, “Saraki has to face the trial. Even if he goes to the Supreme Court, he has to face the trial because he’s not above the law. He should be aware of section 172 of the Nigerian Constitution which states that every public office holder is subject to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB); including the President.
Now, the CCT emanated from the record you submit to the CCB when you were declaring your asset. And the Court of Appeal is on all force. The decision is very cogent and a viable, one because if you’re alleged of false declaration, you must appear before the tribunal and state your case or clear yourself. They say to whom much is given, much is also expected. And as Senate President, you should show to the country and the world at large that you’re above board in the discharge of your duty as a public officer”.
Meanwhile, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who spoke to newsmen said the party will not interfere with the ongoing case, regardless of the Senate President clearing the ministerial nominees.
The Appeal Court has taken a decision. The Senate President and his team of lawyers have taken the matter to the Supreme Court. Thus, for a party and a government serious about the rule of law, the least we can do is to allow the judicial process run its full course”, he said.
-TADE ASIFAT and MICHAEL NWOKIKE