The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has lost his bid for an adjournment before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), in his ongoing trial over non declaration of all his assets while he was governor of Kwara state and for misappropriation of some state funds.
At the resumption of trial, Rotimi Jacobs SAN, informed the tribunal led by the Danladi Umar that having adjourned the matter for commencement of trial, it was ready to call its witnesses but that it was served with a notice for stay of proceedings by the defence counsel.
Saraki, who was represented by Paul Usoro SAN who led over 40 other legal counsels including Mahmud Magaji SAN, prayed the tribunal for an adjournment, pending the hearing and determination of an appeal filed against a ruling of the CCT.
According to Usoro, the CCT had delivered a ruling, to which the defendant have appealed against in appeal number CA/A/172C/2016, on the basis of transition of the appeal, the defence filed a motion for stay of proceedings of the tribunal on the substantive matter.
He said the prayer for an adjournment is essentially to allow the court of appeal to entertain and take decision on the application having fixed April 26, 2016 for the application to be heard, even though the tribunal and prosecutor’s copies never bore the said date.
“Even if there is no date, it does not invalidate my application for an adjournment”, Usoro argued this on the authority of the decision of the Supreme Court in Muhammed against Olawunmi, in which a convicted criminal appealed his sentence, a day before it was pronounced.
“I am not asking your lordship for stay of proceedings, I am only asking for an adjournment because I have an application before the Court of Appeal, it is for it to say if the application is competent or not”, Usoro submitted.
In response, Rotimi Jacobs argued that it was when the defence remembered when the matter was suppose to come up, that was when it decided to “rush” to file an appeal, and then file records of appeal which was suppose to be compiled by the tribunal and then forwarded to the appellate court.
Jacobs argued that: “It is only when the tribunal fails to compile the records within the stipulated 60 days that the appellant is given another 30 days to do so.”
He further argued that in the decision of Belgore JSC, in the matter of Oduba and Houtnamgr reported in 1997 6 NWLR Part 508, page 185 particularly page 205 – 207, as it relates to this matter, the apex court had granted the tribunal judge risdiction to proceed with the case.
“Your lordship will recollect that this issue has travelled to the Supreme Court, it would amount to judicial impediment an rascality for the tribunal to disobey the decision of the apex court. I submit with respect that there was no Section 305 and 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA). The application is premised on a false and void ground”, Jacobs argued.
The tribunal in his ruling averred that in line with provisions of Section 305(1) it applies to cases already referred to the court of appeal, in line with section 306 of the ACJA, having affirmed the jurisdiction by itself and the Supreme court to entertain the matter, and having adjourned the matter for trial, the CCT held that even with the notice of appeal, the matter should go on and prosecution was asked to call witness.
At this point, Usoro, Saraki’s counsel had to seek the tribunal for an adjournment because the lead counsel was not around to oversee the matter, a situation the tribunal frowned at, the CCT ordered prosecution witness to be called.
The Senate President upon his arrival at the tribunal at about 9:58am with not less than 30 other senators on his entourage, had his security details hurling out cameramen and photojournalists.
The CCT had earlier struck out an application filed by Saraki demanding the dismissal of his ongoing trial at the Tribunal, in which he challenged the validity of the 13 count charge of false asset declaration, urging it to strike them out.
PLS NOTE: AS AT THE TIME OF FILING THIS REPORT… PW1 IS STILL TESTIFYING BEFORE THE COURT … MORE DETAILS SOON