Lawyers hail S’Court’s order halting Saraki’s trial by CCT

SENIOR lawyers yesterday reacted to ruling of the Supreme Court, ordering the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to put on hold the on-going trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki over alleged false declaration of assets.
Saraki had filed an appeal challenging the jurisdiction of the Tribunal to try him at the Tribunal and lost.
Dissatisfied, he went to the Appeal Court and still lost. As a result, he approached the apex court to determine the issue.
His counsel also wanted the Tribunal to stay further proceedings on the matter, pending the hearing and determination of his appeal but was over ruled by the tribunal, resulting in a dramatic walk out by the defence team.
Yesterday, the apex court made the stay order, asking the Tribunal to hold on until it determines the issue.
Reacting, Chief Emeka Ngige (SAN) said the order by the Supreme Court was necessary for the Tribunal to stay proceedings.
“This is now the time that the Code of Conduct Tribunal can hand off the matter until the appeal is determined. If there is no Supreme Court order, CCT cannot stop because the Administration of Criminal Justice Act says there should be no stay of proceedings on any interlocutory appeal on any matter concerning any provision under the Act. So they did the right thing until the Supreme Court gave that order.”
To Dr. Abiodun Layonu (SAN): “The argument that a trial court is not bound to stay proceedings when there is an appeal is not a wrong one. The court said, ‘I have given a ruling, you are not satisfied, you have appealed but without a stay of proceedings order, I am going on with the matter.’ The court could take that approach. However, depending on the issue involved, the court will look at if it is such that would have a fundamental effect on the outcome of the case.
The court on its own can stay proceedings and wait for the outcome of the appeal. For the Supreme Court to now ask them to wait, the CCT has in a way been put on a wrong footing.”
To Emeka Nwadioke: “It seems to me that the Supreme Court ruling is in order, aimed to avoid foisting a fait accompli or situation of helplessness on the apex court should the trial at the tribunal proceed without an opportunity being accorded the Supreme Court to pronounce on the appeal before it.
“It is equally proper that the apex court determines the issue of jurisdiction one way or another, as this has overriding implications for the continued viability of the charge at the tribunal.”
Counsel to Saraki, Joseph Daudu (SAN), leading seven other Senior Advocates of Nigeria, had prayed the apex court to stop the proceedings at the CCT pending the hearing of the substantive appeal.
Daudu told the court that the appellant is challenging the jurisdiction of tribunal and the legality of his trial at the tribunal.
Among others, Saraki claimed that the tribunal was not properly constituted with two members instead of three as required by law.
He submitted that the apex court should put the trial at the CCT on hold pending the final determination of the main appeal.
Justice Fabiyi while ordering the proceedings at the CCT stopped, gave seven days each to both parties to file and exchange briefs of their arguments on the substantive appeal.
In line with the undertaking given by the Federal Government’s counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, the court ordered that nothing should be done at the CCT level on the pending trial of the Senate President.

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