Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, has directed Justice Abdul Kafarati to deliver judgment in a civil suit filed by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, challenging the legality of his trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
Justice Kafarati had earlier decided not to deliver the judgment even though it was ready because an online new medium accused him of allgedlly collecting bribe.
Saraki, who is standing trial for an alleged false asset declaration before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) had sued the Chairman of the CCT, Danladi Umar, and others involved in his trial, before the Federal High Court.
In the suit filed for him by his lawyer, Ajibola Oluyede, Saraki argued that his trial before the CCT, as currently constituted, was a violation of his right and that there was no way he could get justice under Umar, the tribunal chairman.
It is also Saraki’s contention that while the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was currently investigating Umar for alleged bribery and at the same time prosecuting him (Saraki) before the tribunal he (Umar) heads, it was impossible for the CCT Chairman to do justice and act independently in his (Saraki’s) case.
Having taken arguments from parties in the case, Justice Kafarati had scheduled judgment for March 22, but when parties arrived at the court, he changed his mind at the last minutes and informed parties that he was withdrawing from the case and returning the case file to Justice Auta for reassignment to another judge.
Justice Kafarati hinged his decision on publications by online media, which he (the judge) said had cast him in bad light and portrayed him as a compromised judge.
He said no matter in whose favour his judgment went, the losing party would habour the impression that he was influenced.
On March 23, Oluyede wrote Justice Auta, demanding that he prevailed on Justice Kafarati to deliver his withheld judgment, no matter who benefits.
Oluyede said: “It is our argument in the suit that the Code of Conduct Tribunal cannot act independently the way it is currently constituted because we believe It’s Chairman, Danladi Umar, who is currently under investigation by the EFCC, cannot be independent in deciding a case being prosecuted before him by the EFCC.
“We have also contented that the EFCC, by admitting that the investigation of the case against our client was done by a special task force, as against the requirement of the provision in Schedule 3 of the Constitution, has usurped the exclusive duties of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). It is on that basis we argued that our client cannot get justice under the current arrangement and asked the court to quash the charge,” Oluyede said.