By Dipo Awojobi – The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, challenging the validity of his trial on charges of assets declaration preferred against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
A seven-man panel of the apex court presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, unanimously ruled on Friday that Saraki’s appeal against the jurisdiction of the trial and competence of the charges, lacked merit.
Justice Wallter Onnoghen, who read the lead judgment, held that contrary to Saraki’s contention, the Danladi Umar-led Code of Conduct Tribunal was validly constituted by two members.
Justice Onnoghen also held that the tribunal was by the provisions of its enabling laws and the Constitution conferred with the quasi-criminal jurisdiction and thus could validly issue bench warrant.
He thus held that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 was applicable to the proceedings of the tribunal.
He dismissed the allegation by Saraki that he was not properly served with the charges and also held that the charges filed before the CCT before the appointment of the Attorney-General of the Federation were valid.
He also noted that there was an attempt by Saraki to intimidate the CCT by claiming that it disobeyed the order of a Federal High Court barring it from continuing with the proceedings pending the determination a suit filed by the Senate President to challenge the trial.
“I have looked at the records, there is no where such orders was made,” Justice Onnoghen ruled.
The CJN and other Justices on the panel agreed with the judgment.
The rest of the panel members who consented are Justices Tanko Muhammad, Sylvester Ngwuta, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Chima Nweze and Amiru Sanusi.
After the judgment on Friday, an army of political associates, who attended the proceedings walked out of the court quietly.
Following the Supreme Court judgment it is expected that the CCT will soon issue hearing notice for the continuation of the Senate President’s trial on three counts of false assets declaration.