- CCT dismisses motion seeking judge’s disqualification
Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday pleaded not guilty to 16 amended charges filed by the prosecution to his false asset declaration trial going on at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.
Saraki’s plea followed the refusal of the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar yesterday, to disqualify himself from presiding on the trial of the Senate president, just as the chairman of Elders Council of Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Senator Joseph Waku has accused the tribunal chairman of being “teleguided” to pass a “predetermined” judgement against Saraki.
However, Saraki has appealed against the refusal of the tribunal chairman to disqualify himself from further presiding over his trial, having been accused of bias in the conduct of the trial.
Saraki had filed an application seeking the tribunal chairman to disqualify himself on ground that he (Umar) is under the investigation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over alleged N10 million bribe, hence there is likelihood of bias which could invariably affect the justice of the matter.
In the Notice of Appeal filed by Rapheal Oluyede, Saraki claimed that the CCT chairman erred in law when he arrived at a conclusion that the application seeking his disqualification lacked absolute merit.
Part of the grounds of appeal was that the tribunal chairman by his action had turned himself to a judge in his own case, leading to a ruling that was essentially a tirade against the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
In the ground two of the appeal, Saraki submitted that the CCT erred in law when it decided that the application lacked absolute merit merely because Umar is of the opinion that the AGF has no constitutional right to investigate and that the AGF lacked authority to give instruction to the EFCC to prosecute him.
He therefore asked the Court of Appeal to set aside the ruling of the tribunal and to as well disqualify Umar from sitting on the panel trying him on charges that were investigated and being prosecuted by the EFCC.
Based on the amended charge, the tribunal, however, adjourned till May 10 for continuation of trial.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government yesterday again re-amended the charges preferred against the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal from 13 to 16.
The first amendment which brought in additional two counts was made on April 18, 2016, while the latest made on April 27, 2016, added one fresh count.
The charges dated April 18 were withdrawn yesterday.
The latest amendment was introduced by the prosecution accepted by the tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, after overruling the defence led by Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), who argued that the prosecution required a motion to give the reasons for the amendment before the tribunal could accept it.
The prosecution alleged in the latest count that on June 3, 2011, Saraki failed to declare his interest in “an American Express Service Card with No: 374588216836009 wherein you (Saraki) transferred huge sums of money in dollars from your Guaranty Trust Bank domiciliary account No 441441953210 in Nigeria to the American Express Service, Europe, whilst you Executive Governor of Kwara State.”
The offence is said to be contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, CAP. C15, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and as incorporated under paragraph 11(1) and (2), Part I of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution and punishable under section 23(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act as incorporated under paragraph 18, Part I of the Fifth Schedule to the constitution, all which the Senate president pleaded not guilty to.
…Tribunal being teleguided
Meanwhile, reacting to the trial processes, chairman of Elders Council of Arewa Consultative Forum, Senator Joseph Waku speaking shortly after the CCT ruling, alleged that from all indications, the tribunal chairman was being teleguided to deliver a predetermined judgement that would not be in the interest of justice.
Waku further stated that “by Saraki’s trial, democracy is on trial, judiciary is on trial and even the nation is on trial and only God knows where we are heading to with this kind of bias trial.
“In as much as we are against corruption, let the legal process take its due cognisance; it is the last hope of the ordinary and common man.”