The Court of Appeal, Abuja, has fixed October 19 for ruling on an application brought by the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, challenging his arraignment at the Code of Conduct Tribunal over alleged false assets declaration and official corruption while he served as Kwara State Governor from 2003 to 2011.
Justice Moore Adumein scheduled the ruling for 2pm after taking final brief of arguments from counsel to parties in the suit.
Justice Adumein also struck out an application by Saraki seeking for a stay of further proceedings at the tribunal because, with the hearing of the substantive matter, it had been overtaken by events.
At Friday’s resumed hearing of the suit, the Senate President was represented by an intimidating team of six Senior Advocates of Nigeria, namely: Mr. Joseph Daudu, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and lead counsel; Malam Yusuf Ali, Adebayo Adelodun, Mahmud Magaji, Ahmed Raji and Kayode Eleja.
Daudu, while moving his motion, argued that the Code of Conduct tribunal had erred in law by going ahead with his client’s trial with just two members, instead of three, as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
According to him, the composition of the tribunal during the trial of Saraki violated paragraphs 15(1) of the 1999 Constitution for lackof aquorum and, therefore, urged the appellate court to nullify the tribunal’s proceedings forthwith.
He further contended that the tribunal was wrong in assuming criminal jurisdiction against the Senate President when it was not a superior court of record.
“The tribunal cannot assume concurrent jurisdiction with the Federal High Court as the Code of Conduct Tribunal is by law inferior to the Federal High Court.
“I, therefore, urged the court to nullify the proceedings of the tribunal against appellant and to also set aside the criminal charges filed against him on account of being illegal and unlawful,’’ Daudu argued.
Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), counsel to the respondents, in his submission, opposed Daudu’s submission,arguing that asked that the constitution is silent on the issue of quorum of the tribunal membership.
Jacobs, therefore, urged the court to invoke the Interpretation Act to resolve the issue in favour of the respondent and dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
He further contended that the tribunal has criminal jurisdiction to determine the case because of the use of words like “guilty” and “punishment” in the law which established it, ab initio.
Responding, however, Daudu stressed that the Interpretation Act cannot override the Constitution, which is the supreme law as the Act is 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 the Constitution is the supreme law and not an Act,” Daudu argued.