Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has reserved judgement in the appeal filed by Senate President, Bukola Saraki, challenging his trial at the Code of conduct Tribunal (CCT), over alleged false and anticipatory declaration of assets.
Justice Abdul Aboki, who presided, said judgment would be delivered on a date that would be communicated to the parties.
is contending in the appeal that the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) did not give him the opportunity to react to the alleged discrepancies in his assets declaration form he submitted to the bureau before charges were filed against him.
Saraki is also challenging the jurisdiction of the CCT to try him on charges bordering on false and anticipatory assets declaration, operating foreign accounts and receiving the salary of a governor after his tenure elapsed.
He asked the appeal court to set aside the ruling of the tribunal dismissing his application challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to entertain the case against him.
He had alleged that he was not given fair hearing before he was charged before the tribunal.
At the hearing yesterday, Saraki’s counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN told the five-member panel that Saraki’s statement ought to form part of the evidence before the tribunal.
He said, “If you bring an accused to court without his statement, it can do damage to his case. A pre-action notice is not unconstitutional. The tribunal had been told to apply the same procedure it adopted in similar cases. Legislation is subject to judicial challenge. If it is a precedent, my client can’t be treated differently.
“Failure to follow this earlier decision is fatal to the case of the accused. It is not in the interest of justice that you bring a man to court 13 years after he had left office. Only the CCB can file action at the CCT and not the EFCC or ICPC.”
On his part, counsel to the Federal Government, Mr. Rotimi Jacob (SAN) asked the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
“I urge this court to hold that this appeal lacks merit and should be dismissed. Once the CCB finds an infraction in an asset declaration form, the onus is on the defendant to prove his innocence before the tribunal. The issue of fair hearing does not appear in this case”, Jacobs added.
Saraki’s earlier appeal had been rejected by both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.