The Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki has asked Justice Gabriel Kolawole of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to stop his on-going trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Saraki is standing trial before the tribunal over alleged false assets declaration.
The suit which is an enforcement of fundamental human rights was marked FHC/ABJ/CS/117/2016 and filed by one Timipa Jenkins Okponipere, on behalf of the Senate President.
The lawyer is seeking the court’s declaration that “the plan to resume the trial of Senator Abubakar Saraki at the CCT is a breach of his fundamental right to fair hearing as guaranteed by Section 36(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
He is also praying for an order compelling the CCT and AGF to suspend indefinitely, any plan to resume the trial at the CCT.
Among the grounds relied on by the applicant, include that the trial at CCT was commenced at the wrong time; four years after Saraki allegedly committed the offences.
According to him, “Having regard to the aims and objectives of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and its functions in sections 2 and 3 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal (CCBT) Act, Senator Saraki ought to have been prosecuted by the respondents long before he returned to public life again in 2015 as an elected Senator.
“Indeed, the CCBT Act never contemplated that an incumbent public office holder was already corrupt before he attained public office, otherwise, people like Senator Saraki, who had a case to answer regarding his activities between 2003 and 2011 would not have been permitted to return to public life.
“However, four years later in 2015 Senator Saraki not only returned to public life as a Senator, he went on to become the President of the Senate, Chairman of the National Assembly and Nigeria’s number three citizen
“It is nobody’s fault that the 1st and 2nd respondents were not vigilant enough to stop or prevent Senator Sarki from attaining public office. If truly the respondents were proactive institutions of government, they ought to have prosecuted Senator Sarki immediately after he left office as Governor of Kwara State in 2011, but they never did.
“The failure, refusal and/or negligence of the respondents to prosecute Senator Saraki for the offences he allegedly committed between 2003 and 2011 before he returned again to public life as a Senator, vitiated all his past alleged misdeeds such that, as of June 8, 2015 when he was inaugurated as a Senator, he was assumed to be a public office holder without blemish in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of the respondents, otherwise they would have long since initiated proceedings against him.
“The subsequent attempt to put Senator Saraki on trial over offences allegedly committed between 2003 and 2011 are not only tainted with political mischief and desperation, they constitute a breach of his fundamental right to fair hearing”.
Responding to the suit, the AGF, in a notice of preliminary objection, faulted the suit and urged the court to dismiss it for lacking in merit.
The AGF noted that the subject matter of the suit did not fall within the provisions of chapter four of the Constitution, containing the guaranteed fundamental human rights.
The case has been adjourned to November 16, 2016.