Justice Abdul Kafarati of a Federal High Court, Abuja, is set to deliver judgment on whether Dalandi Umar led Code of Conduct Tribunal is fit to trial the Senate President Bukola Saraki over false assets declaration or not.
Recall on March 22, when Kafarati was to give judgment on the issue, he disqualified himself, saying no matter whose side the judgment favoured he would be accused of favouritism.
This he claimed was based on an online media report that accused him of a kind of special bond between him and Saraki’s lawyer, Prince Ajibola Oluyede.
The judge, who quoted copiously the online reports, said he had been caught between two devils.
“If I grant the prayers of the applicant, the reading public will say yes, the judge has been compromised. If I refuse the prayers, they will say the judge has been threatened or intimidated.
“The most honourable thing for me to do is to disqualify myself from this case. I hereby disqualify myself from this case and the file is returned to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for re-assignment”, he had said.
According to the online paper, “Justice Kafarati and Saraki’s Prince Oloyede have always partnered to assist the rich and powerful to abort the efforts of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and other security agencies seeking to bring some highly-connected Nigerians to justice”
Justice Kafarati had stood off the case. However, Oluyede on March 23, wrote the Chief Judge of Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, demanding that he prevailed on Justice Kafarati to deliver his withheld judgment, no matter who benefits.
Oluyede said: “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 It’s 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,” Oluyede said.
Part of the letter he wrote to Justice Auta reads: “Although one cannot but sympathise with the hard-working judges, who are victims of these vicious attacks, nevertheless, we find ourselves in disagreement with his (Justice Kafarati) that the interest of justice would be served by his withholding of his judgment and returning the matter to your Lordship for reassignment.
“In our view, the abdication by Justice Kafarati not only fails to meet the end of justice, it also gives momentum to the growth of blackmail tactics and dishonourable conduct targeted at obstructing the administration of justice.
“It would therefore set a bad precedent if your Lordship accedes to Justice Kafarati’s request to allow him to withhold his prepared judgment in this action because of fear of ephemera public opinion.
“We write to seek your lordship’s most urgent intervention to prevail on honourable Justice Kafarati to have his judgment read, so that the very essence of such an important application under the fundamental rights (enforcement procedure) Rules 2009 may not be completely lost and the entire judicial process brought to avoidable ridicule.
“It is immaterial in whose favour the judgment goes so long as we can, through this resistance, defeat the on-line media terrorism being unleashed against the judicial system.
“If this precedent is set, there will be no end to this, as it would mean that all a litigant that wishes to frustrate the administration of justice for any reason, need to is to sponsor spurious allegations against the judge and that will terminate the proceedings and frustrate the timely delivery of justice,” it said.
It was gathered that after reviewing the case Justice Auta prevailed on Kafarati to deliver the judgment.
Thus, April 15 has been fixed for the judgment.
Saraki had approached Justice Kafarati to disqualify Umar to trial him on allegations of false assets declaration, hinging his argument that Umar is being investigated by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
According to Saraki through his lawyer, his trial before the CCT, as currently constituted was a violation of his right and that there was no way he could get justice.
It is also Saraki’s contention that, while the EFCC was currently investigating Umar for alleged bribery and at the same time prosecuting him (Saraki) before the tribunal he (Umar) heads, it was impossible for the CCT Chairman to do justice and act independently in his (Saraki’s) case.
Meanwhile, the judgment is coming after two Federal High Courts had knocked out the case for lack of jurisdiction, especially after the apex court of the land – Supreme Court – had ruled that the Umar led Tribunal as presently constituted can trial Saraki.