You must face trial over false assets declaration, court tells Saraki

Bukola Saraki docked

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Friday dismissed the suit filed by Senate President Bukola Saraki seeking to stop his trial on charges of false assets declaration before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

Saraki had ‎asked the court to quash the charges and nullify the proceedings before the CCT on the grounds that they were initiated in violation of his rights to fair hearing.

But in his judgment, Justice Abdukadir Abdu-Kafarati held that the suit, filed under the fundamental human rights enforcement rules, was an abuse of court process.

Saraki filed the suit against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr. Danladi Umar, and others involved in his trial.

He said he could not get justice from Umar whom he claimed is currently being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged bribery.

He argued that since the EFCC is also prosecuting him before Umar, the CCT chairman may find it difficult to do justice and act independently in his case.

“It is our argument in the suit that the Code of Conduct Tribunal cannot act independently the way it is currently constituted because we believe its Chairman, Danladi Umar, who is currently under investigation by the EFCC, cannot be independent in deciding a case being prosecuted before him by the EFCC.

“We have also contended that the EFCC, by admitting that the investigation of the case against our client was done by a special task force, as against the requirement by the provision in Schedule 3 of the Constitution, has usurped the exclusive duties of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). It is on that basis we argued that our client cannot get justice under the current arrangement and asked the court to quash the charge,” said Ajibola Oluyede, lawyer to the Senate President.

In his ruling, Abdu-Kafarati held that the CCT is a constitutional body in the discharge of its legal obligation which should not be interfered with by a court of law.

“This court cannot interfere with the proceedings before the tribunal; it cannot also interfere with the duties of the respondents which have been imposed on them by law,” the judge said.

He also held that the applicant’s claims that the CCT’s trial falls short of the constitutional requirements is “a sentimental claim that has no basis in law.”

“There are Criminal procedure laws that put in place the method of protecting the accused,” the judge added, noting that the trial cannot be regarded as an infringement of Mr. Saraki’s right.

Since the same appeal by the applicant was dismissed by the Court of Appeal, Abdu-Kafarati stated, it is inappropriate for the applicant to approach the Federal High Court seeking similar redress.

“If the court grants the application, there will be conflict with the ruling of the appellate Court

“I do not see the need to go to the merit of the case,” the judge ruled.