The Code of Conduct Tribunal on Thursday adjourned indefinitely the trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, over alleged false declaration charges.
Chairman of the Tribunal, Danladi Umar, who announced the adjournment at the resumed trial Thursday, said it would be best to wait for the outcome of the decision of the Supreme Court since both parties are already at the apex court over the three count charge returned by the Court of Appeal for trial.
When the matter was called, parties were ready to adopt their final addresses but, Umar taking into consideration the facts that the appeal filed by Saraki and the Federal government against the decision of the Court of Appeal is been given accelerated hearing, decided not to continue with the trial.
He subsequently adjourned further proceedings pending the determination of the matter by the Supreme Court.
“The Tribunal is not insensitive about circumstances in which the defendant was asked to return by the Court of Appeal to answer to allegations in three counts of the charge.
“Since the Supreme Court is already giving accelerated hearing to the appeals before it, we at the Tribunal will be hesitatant to proceed further when the Supreme Court is already seized with facts of the matter. Therefore, this Tribunal has decided to tarry awhile so that integrity of the Supreme Court will not be toyed with”, he said.
Earlier, Prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs had objected to the indefinite adjournment, claiming that so doing would amount to granting the prayers of the defendant.
He added that the appeals in question cannot in any way stop the continuation of the trial at the CCT and urged the Tribunal to carry on with the day’s proceedings.
“The appeals filed by the parties before the Supreme court cannot in any way stop us, I would have said my Lord should tarry a while in respect to the integrity and authority of the court.
“But in this case, the prosecution will want this matter to proceed, Section 306 of ACJA enjoined the court not to entertain any cause for stay in a serious matter like this,” he said.
According to Jacobs, the appeal before the Supreme Court is not an issue of reference; Section 305 enjoined the court to go ahead.
He added that the defendant wrote a letter on Jan 19, asking the court to stay proceeding pending the determination of the appeal before Supreme court but, he did not stick to that, but went ahead to go on Feb. 6 and forget his prayer before the Tribunal.
He therefore prayed the Tribunal to allow the prosecution adopt its written address.
On his part, lead counsel to Saraki, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), urged the Tribunal to stay proceedings until the Supreme Court decides on the appeals, adding that the court had informed the defence that it would be sitting on the appeals on Thursday, March 15.
“The Tribunal summons us to come on Feb. 6, we even thought the Tribunal will say they have received our letter that we are already before the Supreme Court but the Tribunal did not tell us that.
“The principle of the Supreme Court is that the right of appeal must not be stopped; the court itself does not joke with the right of appeal.
“The Supreme Court being a constitutional right dominates every other right contrary to it, we therefore appeal to the Tribunal to stay proceedings until the appeal before the Supreme Court is decided”, he said.
The CCT at its last sitting had adjourned to yesterday for parties to adopt their final address in the trial. The adjournment was predicated on claims by the defence that he was served with the final brief of argument by the prosecution and would need time to respond.
Saraki is been prosecuted by the Federal government over allegations of false asset declaration when he was governor of Kwara State.
Saraki, had on the proceedings of February 6 closed his defense after calling one witness, Dr Ademola Adebo from the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) who testified in his favour.
Although, Saraki, through his counsel, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN had at the commencement of proceedings on that day told the Tribunal that he has lined up four witnesses to testify in his favour, he however, made a U-turn when the legal team decided to limit themselves to the first witness.
Shortly after the lone defense witness was cross examined by the prosecution lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs SAN, the tribunal Chairman Mr. Danladi Yakubu Umar had asked parties for direction in the further proceedings.
Kanu Agabi SAN, lead counsel to Saraki conferred with his client in the box and at the end of the conversation, announced that the defense would no longer call the remaining the remaining three witnesses.
He consequently applied for a date for adjournment to enable parties adopt their final addresses
Chairman of tribunal, had subsequently adjourned the matter till February 27.
Although Saraki was arraigned in 2015 on 18 count charge, the tribunal had on June 13, 2017, discharged and acquitted Saraki in a ruling on a no case submission.
The tribunal had held that the charges against him were based on hearsay that cannot be supported with laws.
However, the Court of Appeal on December 12, 2017 in a judgment on an appeal filed by the Federal government nullified 15 of the charges and ordered the Senate President to respond to only three counts, prompting Saraki to return to the CCT.
With this development, the two parties were yesterday suppose to address the tribunal on contentious issues and thereafter a date for final judgment would be fixed.