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Government & Politics

False Asset Declaration: Court Dismisses‎ Saraki’s Suit To Stop CCT Trial

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed the suit filed by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to stop his trial on charges of false asset declaration before the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja.

Saraki had ‎asked the court to quash the charges and nullify the proceedings before the CCT on the grounds that they were initiated in violation of his rights to fair hearing.

But in his judgment on Friday, Justice Abdukadir Abdu-Kafarati held that the suit, filed under the fundamental human rights enforcement rules,  lacked jurisdiction to entertain it and that it constituted an abuse of court process.

The respondents to the suit include, Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent  Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, and the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase.

Others are the Code of Conduct  Bureau, the CCT; the CCT chairman, Umar; the second member of the CCT panel, Mr. Ataedzeagu Adza, CCB chairman, Mr. Sam Saba and the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Diri.

The judge, who upheld the respondents’ preliminary objection to the suit without considering the merit of the case,  ruled that the court lacked jurisdiction to ent‎ertain the suit as the prayers sought were not available under Chapter 4 (which deals with fundamental human rights) of the Constitution.

The judge also ruled that the suit constituted an abuse of court of process the Supreme Court having earlier validated his trial ‎before the CCT and Saraki having filed similar application before the CCT.

The court ruled that granting the prayers sought by Saraki, would amount to interfering with the powers granted the respondents to investigate crimes and prosecute offenders.

He ruled, “A careful examination of the reliefs sought showed that if grant it will amount to interference with the powers of the respondents.

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“The prayers are not captured under Chapter 4 of the Constitution.

“I cannot also do anything that will interfere with the powers of the respondents to prosecute crimes which the Constitution has given them the power to do.

“Since the apex court has ruled that the prosecution of the applicant before the Code of Conduct Tribunal is in order it is not appropriate for the respondents to approach this court to seek reliefs quashing the charges.”

The judge also ruled that the allegation of political humiliation on which the suit was anchored was merely a sentiment lacked legal basis.

‎The judge recalled that as of the time of hearing the suit, the applicant had filed an application before the CCT asking for similar prayers as contained in the suit.

“If I go ahead to grant the reliefs it will be in conflict with the decision of the Code of Conduct Tribunal,” the judge ruled.

In view of the above findings I hold that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit because the reliefs are not available under Chapter 4 of the Constitution.

The judge ruled, “The originating motion constitutes an abuse of court process.

“The suit is liable to be dismissed and it is accordingly dismissed.”

Saraki, through his lawyer, Mr. Ajibola Oluyede, asked in the suit for an order halting his ongoing trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on 13 counts of false and anticipatory assets declaration.

The Senate President alleged in the suit that the charges preferred against him before the CCT infringed on his right to fair hearing.

He sought an order nullifying the charges and the proceedings of the CCT on the grounds that they allegedly fell short of the requirements of Article 3 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.

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