Thursday, 8 March 2018

CCT suspends judgement in Saraki’s trial

The Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, suspended judgment on the criminal charge preferred against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, by the Federal Government.

The Justice Danladi Umar-led tribunal announced its decision to “tarry for awhile” in the matter, on a day both the Federal Government and Saraki appeared through their lawyers to adopt their final briefs of argument for judgment to be delivered in the case.

The CCT Chairman, Umar, said the tribunal was hesitant to take further step in the case in view of two pending appeals before the Supreme Court.

He however asked both the prosecution and the defence lawyers to address the panel on the propriety or otherwise of the tribunal proceeding to deliver judgment on a subject matter that is already pending before the apex court.

“This matter was fixed for today to enable parties to adopt their final written addresses. However, there is an issue that this tribunal, me and my colleague, decided we should raise suo-motu

“Even though the defendant previously wrote to draw attention of this tribunal to two appeals on this matter that are pending before the Supreme Court, we were 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 deliver judgment in this case, not minding the appeals filed by both parties,” Umar stated.

In his response, the Federal Government’s lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, urged the tribunal to go ahead with the case, contending that suspending further proceeding would amount to granting Saraki’s desire.

He said: “Ordinarily, we would have said your lordships should tarry awhile to protect the authority and integrity of the highest court, but the prosecution will urge the tribunal to proceed inview of the position of the law today.

“Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, enjoins the court not to entertain any application for stay and the Supreme Court has also interpreted that section in Metuh vs FRN, delivered on June 9, 2017, SC/457/2015.

“The appeal before the Supreme Court is not an issue of reference as envisaged in section 305 of the ACJA.

“We took this position bearing in mind that the defendant wrote a letter on January 19, 2018, 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 nurgatory 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 case”.

Saraki’s lawyer, Mr. Kanu Agabi, SAN, commended the CCT panel for acknowledging the superiority of the apex court.

Agabi said: “This is the initiative of the tribunal not ours, so we commend you for that. “How will we react tomorrow if the Supreme Court ask us why we went ahead to litigate on a matter that is already pending before it, what will be our answer?

“We urge my lords to stay this proceeding and let us go back to the Supreme Court”.

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