The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja in a 2-1 judgement on Friday has dismissed the five issue based appeal of Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki against his trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). With this dismissal, the trial of the Senate President will commence before CCT on November 5, 2015.
The court dismissed the argument of Saraki that the CCT was not a court of competent jurisdiction to handle the criminal charges preferred against him. “The CCT is a court of criminal jurisdiction, albeit limited jurisdiction, the lead judgement by Justice Moore Adumein stated, adding that “the immediate question is whether it is a court or not. There is no inherent difference between a court and a tribunal. The only difference is that tribunals in most cases handle special cases. The tribunal has power to impose sanctions according to the law. It is a court with specific criminal jurisdiction.”
Regarding whether the CCT was properly constituted to try Saraki, the three-man panel of judges led by Moore Adumein held that the tribunal was properly constituted to try the Dr Saraki. Justice Adumein stated that the two-man panel of the CCT was the minimum quorum required according to the interpretation the act to sit in judgment on any issue; hence the tribunal did not err in law to commence trial against Saraki with a two-man panel.
On October 19, the appellate court had adjourned ruling on the case between Saraki and the code of conduct tribunal (CCT). In September, Saraki approached the court seeking to stop his trial for alleged false declaration of assets at the CCT.
Arguing the appeal on October 16, Joseph Daodu (SAN), Saraki’s lawyer, formulated five issues on the basis of which he urged the court to halt the trial of his client at the CCT on the grounds that the tribunal was not properly constituted, and that it had no powers to handle criminal matters.
Daudu had then said: “The composition of the tribunal during the trial of my client violated paragraphs 15(1) of the 1999 Constitution by sitting with two members instead of three, My Lord we are seeking the court’s understanding to nullify the CCT proceedings of last month due to lack of quorum,