The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has ruled that it has jurisdiction in the case of alleged falsification of assets brought against Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
The Tribunal says the natural thing to do is to proceed with the trial in spite of a request for an adjournment by counsel to the Senate President, Mr Paul Usoro.
“We adjourned to today to commence with trial. Even if the defence intends to appeal the judgment, it should not stop the proceedings of trial today, provided the prosecution is ready to proceed.
“In view of the foregoing we hold that trial shall proceed for hearing today and we are ready to take the witnesses,” the Tribunal said.
Counsel to the Senate President, Mr Paul Usoro, had asked for an adjournment when the trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on alleged falsification of assets resumed at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Tuesday.
He argued that on the basis of the fact that an appeal has been entered before the appellate court, the defendant filed a motion of stay of proceedings which is before the Registrar of the court.
Mr Usoro said that the process of appeal had been transmitted to the CCT and the record of appeal is before the tribunal.
He explained that the prayer for adjournment is to essentially allow the Court of Appeal to entertain and arrive at a decision in the appeal, which it has graciously fixed a clear date of April 26, 2016 to hear.
The Senate President’s counsel also requested that the case should be adjourned on the ground that he was appearing for the first time in he case and that he was not fully briefed of the matter.
The Principles of Fair Hearing requires that he should be allowed to either be properly briefed or for the lead counsel, Mr Kanu Agabi, to be allowed to return and handle the case.
The Prosecuting Counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, opposed the application.
According to him, the CCT had adjourned the matter for trial to commence and he was ready with his witnesses to commence trial.
He said that the defence is aware that what they are filing today cannot stop the proceedings.
He said that the request for an adjournment is not based on the motion served on the prosecution but on an application of stay of proceedings pending before the Court of Appeal.
He argued that he was served with a motion on stay at 10:20AM on Tuesday morning and since he was not served before the start of the business of the day, it cannot obstruct the trial that has been fixed for same day.
The prosecutor maintained that the appeal filed by Saraki is illegal, backing his argument with Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
The Code of Conduct Tribunal had on March 24 ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the case against the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki on alleged false declaration of his assets while he was Governor of Kwara State.
Dr. Saraki had raised objections on the jurisdiction of the tribunal in the previous sitting.
Lawyer to the Senate President, Kanu Agabi, had argued that the 13-count charge was invalid procedurally because the Code of Conduct Bureau which filed the charges, failed to allow Dr. Saraki explain discrepancies in his assets declaration forms as required by law.
The Chairman of the tribunal, Danladi Umar, ruled that there was no breach of law as the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, 1989, still allows the Senate President to raise his clarifications at the level of the tribunal.
The tribunal also ordered the prosecution to produce its witnesses.