Code of Conduct Tribunal fixes April 5 for Saraki’s trial

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Thursday in Abuja fixed April 5 for the definite trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, charged with alleged false asset declaration.

The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, fixed the date after dismissing a motion by Saraki, challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to try him.

Umar held that the application lacked merit and thereby refused.

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He ordered the prosecution to present its witnesses at the next adjourned date for commencement of trial.

While dismissing the motion, the chairman held that the tribunal had jurisdiction to entertain the case.

Umar also said that the failure of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to meet certain conditions precedents before putting Saraki on trial was not weighty enough to discharge him.

The chairman held that Section 3(b) of the CCT Act made it a requirement for any defendant to be invited for confirmation or denial of discrepancies in assets declaration.

Umar said Section 3(e) of the 1999 Constitution did not make provision for the condition precedent as provided in the CCB Act, as unconstitutional.

The chairman said that the failure of the CCB to invite the defendant in the instant case had not ousted the jurisdiction of the tribunal, reports the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Umar, however, said whether the CCB failed to obtain a written admission from Saraki on the alleged discrepancies in his assets declaration form would be an issue that could be raised in the substantive matter.

According to the chairman, raising such an issue as a preliminary objection is premature at this stage because the charge against the defendant also bordered on allegation of corruption.

He said the case of former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, should not be cited as condition precedence because the tribunal made the decision in error.

Umar said the tribunal had since realised that it acted in error in discharging the former governor.

The chairman said that it was not out of place for the Federal Government to charge Saraki in the way it did even though he left office a long time ago.



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