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Supreme Court Suspends Saraki's Trail At CCT

The Supreme Court yesterday halted the trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, at the Code of senator bukola sarakiConduct Tribunal (CCT) over alleged involvement in false declaration of assets.

The trial initiated by the federal government against Saraki was put on hold by the apex court, pending the time the court would determine the appeal filed by Saraki, in which he was challenging the legality of his trial at the CCT.

When the case came up yesterday, prosecuting lawyer, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), who had earlier objected to granting of stay of proceedings, made a dramatic u-turn with an undertaken that the prosecution would not go ahead any longer with the trial of Saraki once the Supreme Court grant accelerated hearing in the pending substantive appeal.

Jacobs furhter told the panel of five justices of the Supreme Court presided over by Justice Afolabi Fabiyi that the prosecution would not do anything to prejudice the apex court on the pending issue of Saraki before the court.

The U-turn by Jacobs suddenly overtook the earlier objection to Saraki’s application seeking a stay of the trial at the CCT.

With the decision of the Supreme Court, Saraki would no longer appear at the CCT on November 19 as earlier fixed by the tribunal chairman, Danladi Yakubu Umar, for the trial.

In his argument against the application of Saraki for stay of further proceeding at the tribunal, Jacobs submitted that no court of law in the country has the power to grant stay of proceedings in any criminal matter in view of the introduction of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.

He specifically said section 306 of the Act has removed the discretional and inherent powers of any court, including the Supreme Court to grant a stay of hearing in a criminal matter.

According to him, the motive of the legislature in enacting the ACJA is to put to an end the usual delay in the prosecution of criminal matters, which led to the inability of the authority to curb corruption.

But the argument of Jacobs that the Supreme Court lacks the power to stop proceedings of any lower court did not go down well with the justices who considered the pronouncement of Jacobs as an affront to the supremacy of the apex court.

Feeling the pulse of the justices, Jacobs made a U-turn by appealing to the justices not to make pronouncement on the practicability of section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.

He submitted that the decision of the apex court may not augur well especially in the trial courts where such decision can be abused to grant stay of proceedings even when there was no need for such.

Instead of making pronouncement on the practicability of section 306 of Criminal Act, Jacobs begged the apex court to allow the two parties go into the main appeal instead of trading on stay issue.

He also made undertaking that the federal government will not do anything until the Supreme Court has made final decision on the appeal issue.

But Saraki's defence lawyer, Mr Joseph Daudu (SAN), who led seven other senior advocates to argue the Senate president’s case had urged the apex court to stop the proceedings at the CCT pending the hearing of the substantive appeal.

Daudu told the court that the appellant is challenging the jurisdiction of tribunal and the legality of his trial at the tribunal.

Saraki claimed that the tribunal was not properly constituted with two members instead of three as required by the law.

He submitted that the apex court should put the trial at the CCT on hold pending the final determination of the main appeal.

Justice Fabiyi, while ordering that the proceedings at the CCT should be put on hold, gave seven days each to both parties to file and exchange briefs of their arguments on the substantive appeal.

In line with the undertaking of Jacobs, the court directed that nothing should be done at the CCT on the pending trial of the Senate President.

Justice Fabiyi further announced that a date for hearing of substantive appeal will be communicated to the parties as soon as the date is fixed.

Speaking with journalists after the brief ruling, Daudu said that the decision of the apex court and that of Jacobs had vindicated the decision of the lawyers who last week left the tribunal abruptly after obtaining the leave of the tribunal to withdraw from the trial.

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