In two separate rulings on Monday, the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja refused the ex parte applications brought by the Senate president, Bukola Saraki, seeking to stop his arrest by the police and stay proceedings before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over alleged false assets declaration.
In the two separate applications before the courts, Saraki had sought an order from the Federal High Court to stop the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal from prosecuting him.
He had also prayed the Court of Appeal to stay the order of arrest made by the tribunal and also stay proceedings.
However, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, in his ruling at the Federal High Court refused the application and ordered that the respondents be put on notice. He later adjourned until September 30, for hearing of the substantive suit.
The Court of Appeal, also in its ruling, held that for the interest of justice to prevail, respondents should be put notice.
The court adjourned until September 29 for hearing of the motion on notice.
Also yesterday, the CCT renewed its earlier order of arrest on Saraki by the inspector general of police, made last week.
The tribunal had ordered the IGP to arrest and produce him at the tribunal yesterday to take his plea in the 13-count charge slammed against him.
Saraki’s counsel, Joseph Daudu (SAN), had also on Friday undertaken to produce Saraki in Court yesterday.
During yesterday’s proceedings, Daudu informed the tribunal that the accused had filed an appeal before the Court of Appeal, challenging the ruling of the tribunal. He prayed the tribunal to stay proceedings, pending determination of the appeal.
In his response to Daudu’s argument, prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) told the tribunal that Section 305 and 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 no longer allowed a stay of proceedings in any criminal matter.
He further informed the tribunal that because of the undertaking made by Daudu on Friday that he would produce Saraki in court yesterday, he (Jacobs) advised the federal government not to execute the arrest, as a mark of honour to the senior lawyer. He however noted that he was surprised that in spite of the undertaking by Daudu to produce Saraki, the accused person was still not in court.
Jacobs therefore prayed the tribunal to make an order that would bring the accused person.
In his ruling on the absence of the accused person, Justice Danladi Umar recalled that Daudu made an undertaking to bring the accused to court, but the accused was not present.
“We have taken note of the observations of the accused’s counsel on the pending matter at the Federal High Court, but it is worthy of note that the order of the Federal High Court did not suspend the sitting of the tribunal.
“We also disagree on the argument of the accused that applicability of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act did not affect this tribunal. This tribunal is duty-bound to apply the new law, because it affects the tribunal.
“This tribunal has to take a position that’s in the interest of justice and the position of the tribunal is that the accused must be compelled to appear before this tribunal tomorrow.
“In this wise, we re-affirm that the bench warrant of last Friday must be executed, for the inspector general of police or other security agencies to arrest and produce the accused before this tribunal tomorrow by 10am,” the tribunal held.
The Federal High Court had on Thursday summoned the chairmen of the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Tribunal, and a deputy director in the Federal Ministry of Justice, M.N Hassan, to appear before it yesterday, to show why they should not be restrained from prosecuting Saraki.
During yesterday’s proceedings at the Federal High Court, Saraki had, through his counsel Adebayo Adelodun (SAN), prayed the court to make his prayers in the ex parte application on Thursday absolute. He prayed the court to make an absolute order that would stop the tribunal from proceeding with the trial.
Ruling on the application, Justice A.R Mohammed held that in view of the fact that the respondents had joined issues with the plaintiffs, coupled with the fundamental, constitutional and radical nature of the preliminary objection, which bordered on the jurisdiction of the court and supervisory powers of the tribunal, the court would not expend energy and time on interlocutory matters.
The court, on that ground dismissed the application and ordered the applicant to put the respondents on notice.
However, at the Court of Appeal, Adelodun, through an ex parte application, prayed the court to set aside the order of arrest on Saraki and also stay the proceedings at the tribunal.
Ruling on the application, the presiding judge, Justice Moore Adumein held that by Section 15 of the Court of Appeal Act 2004 as amended, the court had the general power to make interim orders.
He further noted that for the court to exercise such power, the application for the interim order must be in writing.
“It is for this reason that the court will refuse this application for interim injunction. It would better serve the interest of justice for the respondents to be put on notice. Consequently, the motion is hereby refused and struck out,” the court held.