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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Fed Govt Urges Supreme Court to Allow Saraki’s Trial Before CCT


The Federal Government has asked the Supreme Court to allow Senate President Bukola Saraki’s trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

Saraki was arraigned before the CCT last month on a 13-count charge of false asset declaration. Proceedings in the trial have been temporarily suspended by the apex court pending the determination of the appeal by Saraki against his trial.
But the Federal Government asked the apex court to uphold the decision of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, that the CCT had jurisdiction to try Saraki and that the charge against him was valid, even when it was not endorsed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
The government’s position is contained in the respondents’ brief by its lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), against Saraki’s appellant’s brief before the Supreme Court.
The government urged the apex court to dismiss Saraki’s appeal and hold that the Court of Appeal was right in its decision that the CCT was properly constituted with a chairman and a member.
The government also urged the apex court to uphold the Appeal Court’s majority decision  that  the competence of the charges were not affected by the fact that it was signed by a deputy director in the Ministry of Justice when there was no Attorney General of the Federation.
It argued that “the exercise of the power conferred on law officers to initiate criminal proceedings under subsection (2) of Section 174 of the constitution is not dependent on the existence of a sitting Attorney-General of the Federation”.
The government contended  that there was no conflict between Paragraph 15 (1) of the Fifth Schedule to the 1999 Constitution and Section 28 of the Interpretation Act, which, according to him, provided that two of the three members of the CCT would form the quorum that could validly conduct proceedings of the tribunal.
On Saraki’s contention that the tribunal was not a criminal court and hence lacked the power to issue arrest warrant, the government argued that from the wordings of Paragraph 18 (1) of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution, the powers conferred on the CCT to find guilt and impose punishment, could only be exercised by a criminal court.
The government faulted the appellant’s argument of improper service of the summons on him to appear before the CCT on September 18.
It urged the apex court to dismiss the argument on the grounds that the issue was not raised before the CCT, but only raised for the first time before the Court of Appeal.
On Saraki’s claim that the CCT ignored the Federal High Court when he was arraigned, the government urged the apex court to uphold the Court of Appeal’s view that since the Federal High Court did not make any order on September 18, 2015, restraining the CCT from sitting, the issue of disobedience of that order or the superiority of the Federal High Court did not arise.
No date is fixed yet for the hearing of Saraki’s appeal.
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