Law News
Lawyers divided as CCT adjourns Saraki’s trial

THERE was no consensus among senior lawyers who spoke to The PUNCH on Wednesday on the propriety of the adjournment of the trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, by the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The CCT’s Justice Danladi Umar on Wednesday adjourned the commencement of Saraki’s trial for 13 counts of false asset declaration till November 5 on the grounds that the tribunal would await the ruling of a Court of Appeal, where the senator is contesting the power of the CCT to try him.

While Chief Adegboyega Awomolo as well as Messrs Norrison Quakers and Yusuf Ali, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria, supported the adjournment by the CCT, another senior advocate, Mr. Kunle Ogunba, said the adjournment was bizarre, especially when it was the prosecuting counsel that asked for it.

Awomolo said it was the most ethical thing for the prosecution to ask that the case be further adjourned. He said, “The position of the law is that when a matter has been appealed against, and the Court of Appeal is deemed to be in full and total control of the whole proceedings at both the Court of Appeal and the lower court, it would be impudent, they call it judicial rascality, for any lower court to take proceedings or proceed with the matter.

“It is the most ethical thing for the prosecution to say let us adjourn this matter until the Court of Appeal has determined the issue before it.

“And you know it is possible for the Appeal Court to overrule the Code of Conduct Tribunal; if the Code of Conduct Tribunal decides to go ahead, notwithstanding the pending proceedings before the Court of Appeal, aside from the fact that the Supreme Court calls it “judicial rascality,” it is a waste of time. And I want to commend the prosecution for bowing to the superior court and for upholding the judicial integrity.”

Quakers also said the prosecution was right to have asked for an adjournment because the law says the lower court must wait for the decision of the higher court, especially as the issue of jurisdiction was being contended.

He also noted that the adjournment was only for two weeks after which, depending on the outcome of the appeal, the tribunal could either go on or not.

The SAN said, “What the prosecution did was what was expected of him in law because of judicial pronouncements even by the Supreme Court, that when a matter is on appeal, particularly an issue that borders on jurisdiction, until the Court of Appeal determines the case one way or the other, the tribunal court must defer to it by adjourning the matter to await the outcome of that decision.

“It is not as if the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 is in error, it is because of the pronouncement of the Supreme Court in decided cases that when a matter is on appeal and the Court of Appeal is now fully ceased of the matter, the lower court must defer to it, to await the pronouncement of the higher court and not take further proceedings.

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