The Court of Appeal on Monday in Abuja adjourned until October 6 to hear an appeal filed by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, challenging his criminal trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.Justice Abdul Northerner, leading four other Justices of the Court, gave the date at the instance of counsel to the parties.
Kanu Agabi (SAN) and Rotimi Jacob (SAN) are representing Mr. Saraki and the Federal Government respectively.
At the resume hearing, Mr. Agabi urged the court to adjourn the matter on account of the convenience of the presiding justices.“My Lordships, it is glaring that the court is overworked and this is telling on the postures of your Lordships,” he said.
“If we say we should press on because of the exigency of this appeal we could all be dead.“We shall at this juncture be urging your Lordships to adjourn hearing on this appeal after you have returned from the annual break.”
Meanwhile, the presiding judge interjected to assure parties of the court’s readiness to entertain the appeal.We appreciate the concerns advanced by the Senior Advocate Agabi, but we shall not be adjourning on account of our convenience as we are here to serve,’’Mr. Jacobs, counsel to the federal government, opposed the motion for adjournment, adding that the applicant should be eager for the appeal to be heard.
He said, “My Lordships, I am also concern about the effort you people are putting to ensure speedy dispensation of appeals. And this no doubt is telling on your health.
“More so that the court has come to the threshold of this year’s annual recess, it is appropriate to take your deserved rest but not when a matter is ripe for hearing.
“Hearing of this appeal has been adjourned three times at the instance of the appellant applicant.”
Mr. Jacobs further said, “Why have they suddenly developed cold feet towards the application?“Be that as it may, My Lordships, I shall be guided by the body language of the court to hold that My Lordships’ discretion should prevail in the circumstance,’’ Mr. Jacobs said.Mr. Saraki is challenging the jurisdiction of the CCT to try him on charges of false and anticipatory assets declaration.
The senate president had approached the appellate court challenging the March 24 ruling of the Danladi Umar-led Code of Conduct Tribunal dismissing his application challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal.He further said that the Code of Conduct Bureau did not give him the opportunity to react to the alleged discrepancies in his asset declaration form before his prosecution.
It would be recalled that Mr. Saraki’s earlier appeal aimed at ending his trial was dismissed by the Supreme Court in its judgment delivered on February 5.
The Supreme Court had in that decision ordered the senate president to submit himself for trial at the CCT.