Asset Declaration: Lack of Quorum Stalls Hearing of Saraki’s Appeal Challenging CCT’s Jurisdiction

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Tobi  Soniyi in Abuja
The appeal filed by the Senate President, Dr. Bulola Saraki, to stop his trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) could not go on at the Court of Appeal yesterday because  the appellate court could not form the  constitutionally required quorum to hear the appeal.

 The appeal was scheduled to be heard yesterday but only three justices sat as against five justices required by law.
Following the development, the Presiding Justice, Moore Adumein adjourned further hearing to Thursday, June 2, 2016.
Counsel to all the parties were in court: Kanu Agabi (SAN) for the senate president while Mr. Rotimi Jacobs appeared for the federal government.

In the appeal, Saraki is challenging the jurisdiction of the Justice Danladi Umar-led tribunal to try him on the 16-count criminal charge, preferred against him by the federal government.
The charge borders on  alleged false/anticipatory declaration of assets, money laundering, operation of foreign accounts while in office as the governor of Kwara State and allegation that he collected salaries as a governor, four years after his tenure had elapsed.

 Saraki wants  the appellate court to set aside a ruling the tribunal delivered against him on March 24.
In the said ruling, the tribunal held that it had the requisite jurisdiction to hear and determine the case against him.
The two-man panel tribunal equally declined to stay further hearing on the matter to await the outcome of the appeal.
Meanwhile, the federal government through its lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, also filed a cross-appeal against the ruling of the tribunal.

The federal government is contending that the tribunal failed to make findings on its argument that Saraki’s motion constituted a gross abuse of judicial process. It was the position of the government that since the issue of jurisdiction was earlier decided by the Supreme Court on February 5, following an appeal by the defendant, the tribunal ought not have entertained another application on the same issue.

At the last hearing, the matter was adjourned by the appellate court to enable Saraki’s lawyer  study FG’s response to the  appeal. Agabi,  had prayed the court for 14 days adjournment to enable him  study the process as he claimed he was just served on him by the federal government.