The Nigerian Supreme Court Thursday ordered ordered a temporary stay of proceedings of the trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki before the Code of Conduct Tribunal of false assets declaration pending the determination of the application the Senate President filed before it. The Justice John Fabiyi led panel ordered the Tribunal to “tarry awhile”.
The court also got an undertaking from the prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs SAN, that the Tribunal will not proceed with the trial until the court pronounces its decision while the court also promise to grant accelerated hearing of the case.
The decision on Thursday came after Saraki’s lead counsel, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), had argued his client’s motion for stay of the CCT’s proceedings, and while Jacobs was responding.
Justice Fabiyi directed Jacobs to file his respondents’ brief in response to Saraki’s appellant’s brief served on him in court on Thursday within seven days. The Supreme Court also directed Daudu to file further response to Jacobs’ brief, if he so desired within seven days thereafter. Justice Fabiyi said the date for the hearing of the appeal would be communicated to parties in due course.
With the Thursday’s order, the tribunal could no longer sit on the case which was already adjourned till November 19.
Saraki had appealed to the Supreme Court against the October 30, 2015 judgment of the Court of Appeal which affirmed the eligibility of the charges instituted against him and the jurisdiction of the CCT to try him.
Recall some lawyers stage a walk out of the CCT proceedings when Saraki was being tried alleging ‘judicial rascality’ following the refusal of the tribunal to adjourn the trial indefinitely because of the pending appeal before the Supreme Court. The tribunal chairman had adjourned till November 19 to enable Saraki to engage new lawyers.
A two-to-one split decision of the Court of Appeal in Abuja had, on October 30, dismissed Saraki’s appeal against the competence of the tribunal and the charges against him comprising 13 counts of false declaration of assets while he was Kwara State Governor in 2003.
In his substantive appeal to the Supreme Court against the appeal court judgment, Saraki maintained that the panel of the CCT was not well constituted because it comprised two members instead of three provided for by law. He also, among other grounds, argued that the charges against him were incompetent since they were filed in the absence of the Attorney-General of the Federation.