|Sen. Bukola Saraki|
The trial of the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over alleged false assets declaration was yesterday stalled due to fresh application brought by the Senate President challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the matter. The Federal Government had filed 13 counts bordering on false assets declaration against the Senate President. At the resumed trial yesterday, prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), had announced to the court that the business of the day was hearing and that his witnesses were in court. He added that he had enlisted about 13 witnesses. Defence counsel, Kanu Agabi (SAN), who led 66 other lawyers, informed the court that he had filed an application challenging the authority of the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate a criminal proceedings and also jurisdiction of the tribunal to entertain the matter. Jacobs, however, responded that he had not been served with the application and that such an application was a plot to frustrate the trial as all the courts up to the apex had asked the defendant to go and face his trial. Agabi responded that the application was served on the Ministry of Justice and later tendered the proof of service to the tribunal. He noted that it was the Ministry of Justice that was delaying the trial on the ground that it should have called the attention of the prosecution counsel to the application served on it. Chairman of the tribunal, Danladi Umar, however, urged Jacobs to collect a copy of the application in court in order to proceed with the case. After collecting the document, Jacobs requested for some time to reply. In agreement with the parties, the tribunal later adjourned till March 18 for hearing of the fresh application. Saraki had pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to him. He had however explored legal ways up to the Supreme Court to stop the trial. But the Supreme Court had in its judgement asked the Senate President to go and face his trial. At yesterday’s proceedings, about 45 Senators including the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, House Leader, Ali Ndume, among others had accompanied Saraki to the tribunal. The senators had arrived the venue of the tribunal about 10:13am in two coastal buses belonging to the National Assembly. Also, supporters of Saraki were seen outside the premises of the tribunal with different inscriptions in support of the Senate President. In the new application, brought pursuant to Sections 36(6)(a)(b), 36(12) and Paragraph 15 of the First Schedule of the 1999 constitution: Section 3(1) of the Third Schedule of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, Saraki is praying for an order quashing or striking out of the charges against him.