Justice Nguta Pleads Not Guilty To Eight Charges At CCT

Justice Sylvester Ngwuta has pleaded not guilty to eight charges bordering on false declaration of assets preferred against him by the Federal Government before the tribunal.

According to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, Justice Ngwuta contravened section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, laws of the federation of Nigeria, which is punishable under section 23 (2) of the Act.

The Chairman of the CCT, Justice Danladi Umar, adjourned the matter for hearing to July 12, 2017 after the judge pleaded not guilty.

Justice Ngwuta is one of the judges whose residence was raided in October 2016 by the Department of Security Service, which uncovered huge sums of money in in the process.

He is also standing trial before Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on an amended 16 counts bordering on money laundering.

 

Senate Begins Amendment Of Code Of Conduct Bureau Act

Senate-NigeriaThe Nigerian Senate has passed for second reading, a Bill seeking to amend the Act establishing the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and its tribunal.

The sponsor of the Bill, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, said the amendment of Section Three of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act would allow every public officer who appears before the Bureau a fair hearing.

However another Federal Lawmaker, Senator Yahaya Abdulahi, voiced concerns over the timing of the amendment of the Bill.

His concerns were in view of ongoing trial of the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, at the CCT.

He said that although the amendment was apt, the perception of Nigerians, especially with regard to the timing should be taken into consideration.
“What I am against is the time,” he stressed.

The amendment would redraft section 3(d) of the Act.

Senator Nwoboshi said that the procedural codes that were being employed by the bureau’s tribunal were not provided for in the nation’s Constitution.

“It is clear that the Act does not contemplate criminal trial. So, the usage of Criminal Procedure Act and the Criminal Procedure Code should not be used as a procedural template in the Tribunal.

“In due course, I will present to this distinguished Senate a comprehensive amendment of the Third Schedule to the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Rules of procedure which should be distinct rules for proceedings in the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT),” he said.

Senators, who contributed, threw their weight behind the amendment of the Act.

Senator Dino Melaye of the All Progressives Congress (APC), representing Kogi West, said that the amendment was very apt, as it had become clear that the CCT was delving into criminal trials.

Melaye urged all senators to support the amendment, stressing that it was justified.

Other senators who contributed were Jubrin Barau of the APC, representing Kano North, Sam Anyanwu of the Peoples Democratic Party, representing Imo East and the Minority Whip, Biodun Olujimi.

Olujimi said: “We are licenced as Senators to look at Acts and Laws to see how we can make them better. There is no doubt that this Act needs amendment.

“We do not want the Act to be used inconclusively. This is a straight forward thing, it should go to the committee and we conclude”.

CCT Rules It Has Jurisdiction To Proceed With Saraki’s Trial

sarakiThe 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.

Alleged False Assets Declaration: CCT Says It Has Jurisdiction In Saraki’s Case

Bukola-SarakiThe Code of Conduct Tribunal has once again 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 last 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.

Mr. Umar said it does not matter how long a crime was committed as the federal government can initiate criminal proceeding anytime the crime is uncovered.

The federal government is being represented in the case by Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, while Mr. Agabi is leading 80 other lawyers in Dr. Saraki’s Defence.

In the charges instituted by the federal government, the Senate President is being accused of making false assets declaration in his forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau as a two-term governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.

The trial has been adjourned till April the 5th, 2016.