In a dramatic twist on the trial of the Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), the Supreme Court in Abuja on Thursday halted his ongoing trial on a 13-count charge bordering on alleged false of declaration assets while serving as governor of Kwara State.
The trial initiated by the Federal Government against Saraki was put on hold by the Apex Court pending the time the court will determine the appeal file by Saraki in which he is challenging the legality of his trial at the CCT.
At the hearing of Saraki’s application for stay of proceedings at the CCT, Justice John Fabiyi, who led a four-man panel of justices, in a ruling ordered Justice Danladi Umar-led tribunal to suspend further hearing in the matter.
In a unanimous ruling, the apex court held that “it is imperative to state that all the parties, including the Code of Conduct Tribunal, should tarry a while to enable this court to determine the appeal before it.
“In effect, further proceeding at the CCT should be stayed pending the hearing of the appeal. Hearing date will be communicated to all the parties,’’ Fabiyi held.
The court, however, gave both parties seven-days each to file and served their briefs in other to ensure that the matter receives accelerated hearing.
Earlier, the Prosecuting Counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), gave an undertaking that the Federal Government would not do anything until the Supreme Court had made final decision on the appeal.
Jacobs urged the court to give the matter accelerated hearing in line with Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 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 proceeding in a criminal matter.
According to him, the motive of the legislature in enacting the ACJA is to put to an end to the usual delay suffered in the prosecution of criminal matters, which has led to inability of the authority to curb corruption.
Jacobs, however, appealed to the justices not to render Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 nugatory.
He submitted that the decision of the apex court might not augur well, especially in the trial courts where such decision could be abused to grant stay of proceedings even when there was no need for such.
Earlier, Joseph Daudu (SAN), Counsel to Saraki, urged the apex court to stop the proceedings at the CCT pending the determination of the appeal.
Daudu told the court that the appellant was challenging the jurisdiction of tribunal and the legality of his trial at the tribunal.
He also argued that that the tribunal was not properly constituted by three-man panel as required by law.
The appellant’s counsel urged the court to put the trial at the CCT on hold, pending the determination of the appeal.
According to a statement by the Special Assistant to the Senate President on New Media, Bankole Omisore, prosecution counsel, 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 will not go ahead any longer with the trial of Saraki once the Supreme Court can grant accelerated hearing in the pending substantive appeal.
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