Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Friday [Apr 15], lost in his efforts geared towards stopping his on going trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), as Justice Abdul Kafarati of a Federal High Court, in Abuja, said the CCT has the powers to try the Senate President.
Justice Kafarati, in his judgment delivered Thursday, also held that Saraki's trial is not in any way a breach of his fundamental human rights and consequently dismissed the application by Senate President seeking nullification of his ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. The Senate President, who is standing trial for alleged false asset declaration and fraud at the CCT, since September last year, had approached the court seeking to enforce his fundamental human rights as provided by Chapter IV of the 1999 constitution.
According to the Judge, the reliefs sought by Saraki are not available under Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution and held that the application constitutes an abuse of court process and consequently dismissed. Abdul 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.
"I find that none of the claims fall within chapter four of the constitution. 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", Kafarati stated.
Justice Kafarati had earlier intended to withdraw from delivering judgement in the suit on ground that an online report alleged that money was paid into his account in order to favour the applicant in his judgement. The judge had then showed his displeasure in the report and consequently returned the case file to the Chief Judge (CJ) of the Federal High Court.
The CJ, Justice Ibrahim Auta however on Tuesday mandated Justice Auta to go ahead with the delivery of the judgement. The Federal Government is prosecuting Saraki before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on 13-count charge bothering on false declaration of assets. Saraki had traversed all the hierarchy of courts in the land to stop the trial, but the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court had in their separate rulings held that the Senate President should go back and face his trial.
The prosecution had since opened its trial by calling the first witness, Michael Watkas, who told the tribunal how Saraki operated three different accounts in GTB Plc. namely; Naira account, Dollar account and Pounds Sterling account. He also told the tribunal how Saraki made about 70 lodgements into the account on a single day through one his personal assistant. The witness had also told the tribunal that the Kwara state government was still paying salary to Saraki four years after he ceased to be the governor of the state.
The tribunal had since adjourned till April 18, 2016 for further continuation of examination in chief.
- Nigerian Tribune