Tribunal insists on trying Senate President

Chukwumerije Aja, Abuja.

For the second time, the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) sitting in Abuja has ruled that it has the jurisdiction to prosecute the Senate presiden,t Dr. Bukola Saraki, in the falsification of assets criminal charge brought against him by the Federal government.

The Tribunal, while ruling on the preliminary objections to his trial, dismissed the application by Saraki, challenging the legality of the charges against him.

Chairman of the Tribunal Mr. Danladi Yukubu Umar said that the failure of the Code of Conduct Bureau to meet certain conditions precedent before putting Saraki on trial was not weighty enough to discharge him and strike out the trial.

He said that section 3(b) of the Code of Conduct Tribunal Act , which made it a requirement for any defendant to be invited for confirmation or denial of discrepancies in assets ,had been overtaken by the provision of section 3 (e) of the 1999 constitution , which according to him, is the supreme law.

The Tribunal chairman cited section 3(e) of the 1999 constitution.

The Tribunal further said that the failure of the Code of Conduct Bureau to invite Saraki in the instant case had not ousted the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.

However, on the failure of the CCB to obtain a written admission of Saraki on the alleged discrepancies in his assets, the Tribunal chairman said that the issue was crucial but can be raised in the substantive matter, adding that it is premature at the preliminary objections stage because the charge against the defendant (Saraki) borders on alleged corruption.

“On this issue of failure of the CCB to obtained a written admission of discrepancies in the address forms of the defendant before referring him to this Tribunal, we hold that this is crucial but can be raise in the substantive matter as doing so now at the preliminary stage is premature, more so, when the charge borders on alleged corruption, For us therefore, it will be out of place to give legal weight to that failure for now without hearing the substantive matter.

On the discharge of the former Lagos State governor by the Tribunal some years ago simply because the CCB failed to fulfill the condition precedent, we have since realized that we acted in error on discharging Tinubu on that ground and we have since departed from that error.”

On the filing of the charges by the FG 13 years after Saraki has left office, the CCT boss said that there was statute of limitation on criminal matters and that it was not out of place for the Federal Government to charge him the way it did, even though he left office  for a long time

Meanwhile, the trial has been fixed for April 5,  for the commencement of the trial.