Justice Ahmed Mohammed of a Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday withdrew from the case filed by Saraki against the Code of Conduct Tribunal and the Code of Conduct Bureau. The court therefore ordered that the case file should be returned to the Chief Judge of the FHC, Justice Ibrahim Auta, for re-assignment. At the resumed hearing of the case on Wednesday, Justice Mohammed attributed his decision to return the case file to what he described as “negative reports” on the case.
The judge expressed displeasure at the reports in the media that he ordered the CCB and CCT to stop the prosecution of Saraki, adding that the reports had already created a negative opinion in the mind of many Nigerians. Precisely, two weeks ago, Justice Mohammed had summoned the CCB and the CCT over the planned arraignment of Saraki by the CCB.
Justice Mohammed had while granting the motion ex parte that was argued before him, directed the CCB and the CCT to appear before him on September 21, 2015 and show cause why the interim injunction being sought by the Senate President should not be granted. He also directed that all the plaintiffs should be served with the motion ex parte and the accompanied affidavit while hearing notice should be served on all the respondents.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has said he can be impeached if he interferes in the Code of Conduct Tribunal case against Saraki over charges of false assets declaration. Saraki, on September 11, had been served a 13-count by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation. The Senate President responded by calling it a witch-hunt.
But in a statement on September 20, the Presidency denied any responsibility for the Senate President’s trial and described the attempt to link Buhari to Saraki’s trial as unacceptable. The Presidency had argued that the trial of the Senate President was purely a judicial and constitutional issue.
Buhari, in an interview with Sahara TV, which was monitored by one of our correspondents on Wednesday, however, said he could not interfere in the trial because it would be unconstitutional to do so. He said:
“What has the President got to do with it as a person? The case is in court. Do Nigerians expect me to tell the Chief Justice to tell whichever court that they shouldn’t try the Senate President?
“Do Nigerians know the constitution of their country; that the Legislative, Judiciary and Executive have got their roles within the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? Then how do they expect me to interfere? I can be successfully impeached if I do it.”
Asked if he would pass any vote of confidence in the Senate President, in the light of the backing of Saraki by 83 senators on Tuesday, the President said:
“That would depend on the outcome of the trial.”
Responding to questions about his current relationship with the Senate President, Buhari said that he had been communicating with Saraki through letter.
“There are some appointments which the Senate has to approve and I cannot remember how many letters I have personally written to him, because it is constitutional. There are people I want to work with but I cannot work with them unless the National Assembly approves. So, I have been writing to the Senate President and to the Speaker of the House (of Representatives) and it is constitutional,” he said.