Saraki must face trial by CCT, Appeal Court rules
In from Timothy Enietan-Matthews . . .
The Appeal Court, Friday, ruled that the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, has the powers to try Senate President, Bukola Saraki, over ongoing 13-count criminal charge trial, even as the Court dismissed the five ground of appeal against the Tribunal.
However, the ruling of the Court did not come without its own drama as there was a sharp division between the judges. Whereas Justices Moore Adumein and M. Mustapha dismissed the appeal that was lodged by Saraki as lacking in merit, another member of the panel, Justice J.E. Ekanem upheld the appeal, declaring the charge before the CCT as incompetent.
According to Justice Ekanem, the fact that a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Justice, MMS Hassan, signed the charge, invalidates it. He therefore quashed the charge and discharged Saraki.
“A look at the charge showed that Mr. Hassan instituted the action pursuant to section 24 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, 2004 which permits only the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings”.
Justice Ekanem stressed that though the constitution permits the Solicitor-General of the Federation, SGF, to commence criminal action in the absence of the AGF, he said that Hassan failed to produce any document showing that he was properly authorised by the SGF.
“The opening paragraph of the letter Hassan sent to the CCT on September 11, wherein he applied to commence trial against the appellant is very instructive.
“He merely said ‘ I am authorised to file this action’ but did not say that he was authorised by the Solicitor-General. He went short of identifying who authorised him.
Read also: APC has no hand in Saraki’s travail, Gbajabiamila says
“It is therefore my view that the charge before the tribunal is incompetent. It is for this view that I hold that this appeal has succeeded and I hereby set-aside the charge and discharge the accused person”, Justice Ekanem held.
The third member of the panel, Justice M. Mustapha, however agreed with the lead verdict, declining to quash the charge against Saraki.
Justice Adumein in his lead ruling dismissed Saraki’s appeal, saying he should go to the tribunal to answer the charge against him.
He also held that Justice Danladi Umar-led tribunal was properly constituted to try the offences against Saraki. He noted that he was not charged in his official capacity, but as an individual.
He therefore dismissed all five grounds of appeal that Saraki filed before the court for want of merit.
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