The Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja begins its hearing over Senate President Bukola Saraki for supposed “false declaration of assets.’’
UPDATE: The CCT has ordered Solomon Arase, the Inspector General of Police, and other related security agencies in the country to arrest Saraki.
The Ministry of Justice appealed the Justice Umar-led panel to demand for his arrest, saying “he cannot sit in the comfort of his chamber and object to his trial in absentia”.
Justice Umar claimed that the accused person having sworn to protect the constitution, ought to have shown respect to the tribunal by appearing before it today.
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However, Senate president missed at the trial and is represented by his legal counsel, Mahmud Magaji.
M.S. Hassan, the prosecuting counsel, asked the court to issue a bench warrant against Saraki for failing to appear before the court after being summoned.
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He particularly demanded that Saraki should be detained within two hours and brought to court.
In defence of Senate president, Magaji reasoned that the prosecuting counsel, who is a deputy director at the ministry of justice and who signed the accusations against Saraki, has no locus standi on the development.
He argued that charges could only be brought against Saraki by the attorney-general of federation, who is yet to be nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Consequently, Magaji, asked the court to strike out the case.
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Magaji, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), brought the attention of the court to the interim order of the federal high court temporarily halting the court.
Meanwhile, the prosecuting counsel argued that Senate president’s counsel had no right to oppose to his appeal for the arrest of Saraki since he was not present in court.
He called on the court to dismiss to application of the defendants, continuing that the law does not say that only the attorney-general can institute criminal proceedings against anyone.
“It is not exclusive to the attorney-general alone to institute criminal proceedings. An officer in his department can do so as well,” he said.
Hassan further contended that the high court does not have overseen jurisdiction over the tribunal; hereafter an injunction from the high court does not exist.
He repeated his prayer to the court for the arrest of Saraki, saying: “The accused cannot be in the comfort of his house and expect his lawyers to the job for him.
“We urge this court to issue a bench warrant for the arrest of the accused person because objection cannot be taken in absentia.”
Saraki however rejected the accusations and defined the 13 count corruption charge by CCB as frivolous.
He went ahead to say that he declared his assets in 2007, 2011, and recently in 2015, and the CCB never complained of any contradictions.