The Court of Appeal on Monday adjourned ruling indefinitely on the appeal brought by the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, challenging his arraignment before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
At Monday’s resumed sitting slated for judgment on the appeal, Mrs Christie Aruna, a court registrar, informed lawyers and litigants that the judgment fixed for Monday by the Presiding Judge, Justice Moore Adumein, had been adjourned indefinitely and the court would communicate a new date to parties in the suit.
Eminent persons comprising Senators, Chieftains of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and supporters of the Senate President who had stormed the court as early as 8am for the judgment slated for 2pm left the court premises disappointed when the reality dawned on them that the judgment will not be delivered after all.
The appellate court which heard the appeal case argued by Mr Joseph Daodu, SAN on behalf of Saraki and Mr Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, for the Federal Government last Friday had fixed judgment for Monday after granted accelerated hearing to the appellant.
In the appeal, Saraki had challenged the power of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to prosecute him on behalf of the Federal Government on account of alleged false assets declaration.
He premised the appeal case on five grounds, among which were that the tribunal was unlawfully constituted, having not formed a quorum because of the two members sitting at the trial instead of the mandatory three members.
The appellant’s counsel had also contended that the tribunal lacked power to assume criminal jurisdiction.
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Mr. Joseph Daudu led five other Senior Advocates of Nigerian (SAN) comprising Malam Yusuf Ali, Adebayo Adelodun, Mahmud Magaji, Ahmed Raji and Kayode Eleja to argue the case of Saraki.
Moving his case, Daudu had raised five major issues for the court to determine the legality of the trial of Senator Saraki at the code of conduct tribunal.
Among others, the appellant counsel had argued that the code of conduct tribunal erred in law by proceeding with the trial with two members instead of mandatory three as provided by the constitution.
He had informed the court that composition of the tribunal during the trial of Saraki violated paragraphs 15(1) of the 1999 constitution by sitting with two members instead of three and asked the court to nullify the CCT proceedings of last month due to lack of quorum.
The appellant counsel disagreed with the arguments of the prosecution counsel Mr Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, that the Interpretation Act can be used to resolve the constitutional logjam since the constitution was silent on the quorum for the tribunal membership.
Daudu insisted that the Interpretation Act cannot override the constitution, which is the supreme law and the Act being inferior to the constitution.
“To ask that the Act of Interpretation be used to override constitutional provision is wrong and unheard off. That itself will amount to product of mis-interpretation because constitution is the supreme law and not an Act”.
He also argued that the tribunal was wrong in assuming criminal jurisdiction against the Senate President when it was not a superior court of record.
Daudu who cited several authorities submitted that the tribunal cannot assume concurrent jurisdiction with the federal high court.
According to him, the code of conduct tribunal was by law inferior to the federal high court.
He had therefore urged the appeal court to nullify the proceedings of the tribunal and to also set aside the criminal charges filed against him by the federal government on account of being illegal and unlawful.
But opposing the submissions of Saraki’s counsel, Jacobs urged the appeal court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
Jacobs told the 3-man appeal court panel that the constitution was silent on the quorum of the tribunal memberships.
He urged the court to invoke the Interpretation Act to resolve the issue in favour of the respondent.
The respondent counsel also submitted that the tribunal has criminal jurisdiction because of the use of words like “guilty” and “punishment” in the law that established the tribunal.
Justice Adumein had thereafter fixed judgment for yesterday.
It will be recalled that the trial of the Senate President had been fixed for October 21, 22 and 23 by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja in spite of the pending appeal against its decision on the legality of the arraignment of the appellant.