Saraki loses again in bid to stop Ccorruption trial
A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday dismissed the suit filed by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to stop his trial on charges of false asset declaration before the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja.
The judgement, delivered by Justice Abdulkadir Abdu-Kafarati, was one in the series of recent decisions of the CCT and other courts dismissing the numerous legal actions filed by the Senate President at various levels of court asking for an order to stop his trial.
Saraki had, through the fundamental human rights enforcement suit, asked the court to quash the charges and nullify the proceedings before the CCT on the grounds that they were initiated in violation of his rights to fair hearing.
But Justice Abdu-Kafarati held in his judgement that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit since the prayers sought by the applicant were not available under Chapter 4, which deals with fundamental human rights.
The judge also ruled that the suit constituted an abuse of court process, the Supreme Court having earlier validated the trial of the Senate President before the CCT and that Saraki, having also filed similar application before the CCT.
The judge also dismissed the contention by Saraki that the charges instituted against him were borne out of political witch-hunt.
“This allegation is a mere sentiment which has no place in our law,” the judge said.
He ruled that granting the prayers sought by the applicant would amount to the court interfering with the powers of the respondents conferred on them by the Constitution to investigate and prosecute crimes.
Justice Abdu-Kafarati added that the court lacked the power to interfere with the proceedings of the CCT, which he noted was granted the power by the Constitution to hear the type of charges preferred against the Senate President.
He ruled, “A careful examination of the reliefs sought shows that if granted, it will amount to interference with the powers of the respondents. The prayers are not captured under Chapter 4 of the Constitution.
“The court cannot interfere with the proceedings of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which has the power to conduct by the Constitution.
“I cannot also do anything that will interfere with the activities of the respondents to prosecute and investigate crimes which the Constitution has given them the power to do.
“Since the apex court has ruled that the prosecution of the applicant before the Code of Conduct Tribunal is in order, it is not appropriate for the respondents to approach this court to seek reliefs quashing the charges.”
The respondents to the suit against whom Saraki had sought to restrain him from further prosecuting or investigating him included the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN); the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission; and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase.
Others were the Code of Conduct Bureau; the CCT; the CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar; the second member of the CCT panel, Mr. Ataedzeagu Adza; CCB Chairman, Mr. Sam Saba; and the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Diri.
Saraki had contented in the suit that the CCB failed to invite him to either admit or deny the alleged infractions in his asset declaration forms before charges were instituted against him as stipulated in the Code of Conduct and Tribunal Act.
The Senate President argued that on the basis of that, the trial had fallen short of the requirements of Article 3 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.
He, therefore, asked the court to nullify the charges and the proceedings of the CCT on that basis.
But the judge ruled that the argument by Saraki's lawyer, Mr. Ajibola Oluyede, was misconceived, adding that “an investigation remains what it is, an investigation.”
He said the only option open to the applicant was to wait for the prosecution to conclude its case and then raise a no-case submission.
“If the no-case submission is upheld by the tribunal, that will be the end of the case,” the judge ruled.
The judge recalled that as of the time of hearing the suit, Saraki had filed an application before the CCT asking for similar prayers as contained in the suit.
“If I go ahead to grant the reliefs, it will be in conflict with the decision of the Code of Conduct Tribunal,” the judge ruled.
The judge held, “In view of the above findings, I hold that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the suit because the reliefs are not available under Chapter 4 of the Constitution.
“The originating motion constitutes an abuse of court process. The suit is liable to be dismissed and it is accordingly dismissed.”
The Danladi Umar-led tribunal had on March 24, 2016 dismissed the application by Saraki praying for reliefs similar to the one contained in his suit.