The Court of Appeal, Abuja division, yesterday dismissed an appeal by Senate President, Olubukola Saraki, challenging the legality of his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, on false assets declaration.
In a split decision of two Justices to one, the Appeal Court held that the charges were in order.
Justice Moore Adumein, who delivered the lead judgment, however, faulted the mode of service of the charge on the Senate President, stating that the accused ought to have been personally served.
Adumein said that the issue of service was a fundamental one and a foundation upon which a trial will be laid, but noted however, that although Saraki was not properly served, his counsel failed to raise the issue before the CCT and therefore resolved the issue in favour of the prosecution.
In a dissenting judgment, Justice Joseph Ekanem nullified the charge against Saraki on the grounds that there was no evidence before the court that Deputy Director in the Ministry of Justice, M. S Hassan has the authority of either the AGF or the Solicitor General of the Federation to file the charge against Saraki.
Justice Ekanem premised his decision on a letter of September 11, 2015 that Hassan wrote to the tribunal to apply for the trial of Saraki saying that from the tone of the letter he lacked authority to act for the solicitor general and stressed that M.S Hassan breached Section 24 of the CCB and Tribunal Act 2004.
On that ground, justice Ekanem set aside the charge against Saraki and also discharged him from being prosecuted.
But in the concurrent judgement of Justice Adumein and Mohammed Mustapha, they held that M S Hassan, being an officer in the temple of justice and a member of the Bar, could not have initiated the trial without the authority of the appropriate person.
The two justices said that the tribunal was right in assuming jurisdiction in the matter because the chairman of the tribunal and member have no cause to disbelief M. S Hassan on whether he has the authority of Solicitor General or mot, having come from the federal ministry of justice as a deputy director.
They also dismissed the claim of Saraki that his trial was unlawful having not been initiated by the person of the AGF, adding that the law officers of the federation Act was clear that in the absence of the AGF, the Solicitor General of the federation may assume the function of the office of the AGF.
They also dismissed another claim of Saraki that the tribunal did not form quorum of three memberships as the Justices noted that although, the constitution was silent on the quorum but the interpretation Act, a veritable legal tool has smoothly settled the matter with a provision that two members can sit in a ny tribunal matter.
They agreed with the prosecution that the tribunal has limited criminal jurisdiction and subsequently dismissed the appeal and ordered that he should go back to the Tribunal to face his trial.
Saraki had challenged the legality of his arraignment at the Code of Conduct Tribunal by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) over allegation of false declaration of his assets.

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