The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) yesterday adjourned indefinitely, the trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, over alleged false assets declaration.
Chairman of the CCT, Danladi Umar, ordered suspension of the trial to wait for the outcome of two appeals at the Supreme Court in respect of the case.
In his ruling yesterday after counsel had made submissions on the propriety or otherwise of going ahead with the matter in view of the pendency of the appeal at the apex court, Umar said there was need to “tarry awhile”.
The tribunal based its decision on Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which provides for fair hearing and right of appeal to all the parties.
“The tribunal is not insensitive about circumstances in which the defendant was asked to return by the Court of Appeal to answer to allegations in three counts of the charge.
“Since the Supreme Court is already giving accelerated hearing to the appeals before it, we at the tribunal will be hesitant to proceed further when the Supreme Court is already seized with facts of the matter.
“Therefore, this tribunal has decided to tarry awhile so that integrity of the Supreme Court will not be toyed with. “This tribunal has decided to adjourn the continuation of the adoption of the final addresses sine-die to await the outcome of the appeals”, Umar held.
Yesterday’s sitting was for both the prosecution and defence counsel to adopt their submissions as their final argument. When the matter was called, Umar informed the parties that the panel was hesitant to take further step in the case in view of two pending appeals before the Supreme Court.
In view of the two pending appeals, Umar had earlier directed the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) and defence counsel, Kanu Agabi (SAN) to address the panel on the propriety or impropriety of the tribunal to go ahead with adoption of briefs of arguments.
“This matter was fixed for today to enable parties to adopt their final written addresses. But there is an issue that this tribunal decided to raise.” Umar added that even though the defendant previously wrote to draw attention of the tribunal to two appeals on the matter that were pending before the Supreme Court, the court was surprised that counsel kept silent on that letter and proceeded to open his defence.
“However, at this juncture, we feel it is germane to call on the prosecution and defence to address us on the way forward since issues have been canvassed before the Supreme Court. “You should address us on whether it is not proper for this tribunal to await the decision of the Supreme Court on issues that parties have raised with respect to counts 4, 5 and 6 of the charge before us.
“We want to know if it will be right to proceed and allow you to adopt your written addresses in this case, not minding the appeals filed by both parties”, Umar stated.
The prosecution urged the tribunal to go ahead with the case, noting that adjourning further proceedings would amount to granting Saraki’s desire.
“We took this position bearing in mind that the defendant wrote a letter on January 19, wherein he notified the tribunal of the pending appeal.
“He requested the court to defer hearing as any decision will render the outcome of the appeal at Supreme Court nugatory and foist a fait-acompli on the parties. But since the same defendant proceeded to open his defence to the charges, we urge my lords to also go ahead with the trial.
Saraki’s lawyer commended the CCT panel for acknowledging the superiority of the apex court, saying that there was need for further proceeding to be suspended in the matter to await the outcome of the appeal that was lodged by his client and a cross-appeal that was filed by Federal Government.