Decision Day for Senate President, Saraki

Today, Friday 5, February, is decision day for Senate President, Bukola Saraki as the Supreme Court is set to deliver judgment on the appeal the Senate President filed seeking to quash the 13-count charge the Federal Government filed against him.
The judgment will be delivered by a seven-man panel of Justices of the apex court, led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed.
The Supreme Court will determine whether or not to stop the trial of the Senate President, Saraki, on charges of false asset declaration before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The government had, in the charge it filed before the CCT, alleged that Saraki tampered with the assets declaration form he filled prior to his emergence as the Senate President.
Saraki was accused to have deliberately manipulated the assets declaration form by making anticipatory declarations, aside the allegation that he operated a foreign bank account while in office as a public servant.
Saraki was also accused of acquiring wealth beyond his legitimate earnings. All the offences contained in the charge were said to have been committed while Saraki held sway as the Governor of Kwara State.
Saraki, through his team of lawyers led by Chief J. B. Daudu, SAN, went before the apex court to challenge the competence of the charge which he said ought to be quashed for want of merit.
Relying on the provision of Paragraph 15(1) to the Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, Saraki maintained that the Justice Danladi Umar-led panel of the CCT was not legally and properly composed to try him. He argued that a two-member panel of the CCT that has been presiding over the case against him fell short of the constitutional requirement.
Moreover, Saraki contended that the CCT, not being a court that is constitutionally equipped with criminal jurisdiction, lacked the powers to dock him on the basis of the 13-count charge. Besides, it was his argument that the fact that there was no substantive Attorney-General of the Federation as at the time the charge was filed, rendered it incompetent.
Fedetal Government, through its lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), however, urged the apex court to dismiss Saraki’s appeal for want of merit, insisting that it has established a prima-facie criminal case to warrant the prosecution of the Senate President before the CCT.
Urging the court to direct the appellant to go and clear his name before the tribunal, Federal Government relied on the provision of section 4(2)(b) of the interpretation Act, to contend that Saraki was properly charged before the CCT.
The Federal Government had, in September 2015, arraigned Saraki before the CCT on 13 counts of false asset declaration which he allegedly made in 2003 as Governor of Kwara State.
The Danadi Umar-led CCT had dismissed Saraki’s protest against the competence of the charges and jurisdiction of the tribunal.
Saraki had appealed against the decision of the tribunal, but the appeal was dismissed by a two-to-one split decision of a three-man bench of the Court of Appeal in Abuja on October 30, 2015.
He further appealed to the Supreme Court, maintaining that the charges were not competent.
The Supreme Court had, on November 12, 2015 through a five-man panel, led by now retired Justice John Fabiyi, granted an order of stay of proceedings in Saraki’s trial before the CCT, pending the hearing and determination of his appeal.

Author: News Editor

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