A Five-member panel of justices of the Court of Appeal in Abuja on Thursday, reserved judgement in an appeal filed by Senate president, Bukola Saraki, challenging the jurisdiction of Code of conduct tribunal in trying him over allegations of false asset declaration.
Saraki in the appeal, is also contending that the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) did not give him the opportunity to react to the alleged discrepancies in his assets declaration form submitted to the bureau before charges were filed against him.
The appeal which was filed on March 24, 2016, was too challenge the ruling of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, led by Danladi Yakubu Umar, which dismissed his application challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to entertain the case against him.
In his address, the Council to Saraki, Mr. Kanu Agabi (SAN), urged the court to upturn the decision of CCT which has arrogated jurisdiction to itself to try his client.
He further argued that under Section 3(d) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, anyone alleged to have breached the provision must be given an opportunity for a written admission. This legislation he said was not followed by the tribunal.
“That is why we are here. Leaving an inferior court like the CCT to declare an important legislation unconstitutional will be fatal,’’ he said.
Agabi further said that the applicant should not have been taken to the tribunal, adding that Saraki was not given his full right of admittance to the error spotted in his assert declaration forms.
“If the Code of Conduct Bureau had followed the provision of the law we would not have been here. Saraki was not given the right of fair hearing and we are surprised why this happened.
“In the light of this, there is no statement from the applicant which should have been accompanied with the prosecution’s proof of evidence as stipulated in the Administration of Justice Act.
“The other aspect is for the appellate court to decide whether it is right not to treat all identical cases equally,’’ Agabi said.
He also said: “we are saying this because the tribunal had some time ago ruled itself out of a similar case filed against Sen. Bola Tinubu.’’
Agabi submitted that it was clear that the action against the applicant was not in the interest of justice.
On his part, counsel to the Federal Government, Mr. Rotimi Jacob (SAN) told the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
“I urge this court to hold that this appeal lacks merit and should be dismissed. Once the CCB finds an infraction in an asset declaration form, the onus is on the defendant to prove his innocence before the tribunal. The issue of fair hearing does not appear in this case”, Jacobs added.
Justice Abdu Aboki-led other four justices of the appellate court reserve the date after parties had adopted their written addresses.
Aboki said that the date of the judgment would be communicated to the parties.