Supreme Court adjourns Saraki’s, FG’s appeal on CCT trial indefinitely

The apex court put off the two appeals sine die to enable Saraki and government file and exchange process relating to the legal tussle within the time allowed by the law

The Supreme Court has adjourned indefinitely hearing in the appeal filed by the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, and the Federal Government to challenge the decision of the Court of Appeal in the trial of Saraki on false assets declaration.
The apex court put off the two appeals sine die to enable Saraki and government file and exchange process relating to the legal tussle within the time allowed by the law.
At the proceeding, Counsel to the Federal Government, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), informed the court that Saraki had just served on him his response to the cross appeal of the government.
Jacobs insisted that he needed time to study the reply and file his own process and serve same on Saraki as required by law.
He asked for adjournment to enable him do so and which was not opposed by counsel to Saraki, Kanu Agabi (SAN).
Justice Mohammed Musa Dattijom who presided over four other Justices of the court, however, said the court will not give definite date for hearing until all processes have been filed.
Dattijo said the Registrar of the court will communicate hearing date to parties involved as soon as their processes are confirmed filed and exchanged.
Saraki and the government are contesting the decision of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, which nullified 15 out of 18 count charges filed against Saraki by the government for being baseless and frivolous, but asked Saraki to open defence on the remaining three charges.
While Saraki is however praying the Supreme Court to void the entire 18 count charges, the Federal Government in its own cross appeal is praying the apex court to uphold the entire charges against the Senate President for defence.
The Code of Conduct Tribunal, where Saraki was arraigned in 2015 by government on 18 count charges of false assets declaration, had discharged and acquitted him on the ground that the charges were based on hearsay evidence that could not be relied upon to convict the defendant.
The Chairman of the tribunal, Danladi Yakubu Umar, in his ruling in a no- case submission made by Saraki, agreed that the charges have no proper foundation in law and struck them out.
This prompted the government to move to the Court of Appeal to challenge the tribunal’s decision.
The Tribunal had on March 8 adjourned indefinitely the defence of Saraki in the three count charges pending the time the appeal at the Supreme Court would be determined.
Saraki is to defend himself on three of the 18 counts of false assets declaration filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The adjournment, according to the Umar-led CCT, was to await the decision of Supreme Court on the appeal filed by Saraki and the Federal Government’s cross-appeal in respect of the case.
Umar ruled after dismissing the prosecution’s objection to an adjournment: “The tribunal has decided to adjourn sine die (indefinitely) pending the outcome of the appeals at the Supreme Court.
“The decision of the supreme court will ‘invariably affect. the decision of the tribunal.
“We have to protect the integrity of the Supreme Court first but we need to hear from you (the prosecution and defence counsels).”
Responding, Jacobs advised the court to proceed with the defence “in view of the position of law today”.
He argued that section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act enjoins the court not to entertain any application for stay.
He said: “So the appeal before the Supreme Court is not an issue of reference. And section 305 also permits the court to go ahead assuming it is an issue of reference.”
But Agabi said the idea of staying the proceedings “is not our initiative.
“It is the initiative of the tribunal and we commend you for it.
“The prosecution also has an appeal at the supreme court, so it is not just us.”
The tribunal consequently adjourned the matter sine die.