The appeal court sitting in Abuja has dismissed the appeal of Senate President Bukola Saraki against his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The court on Friday dismissed the argument of Saraki that the CCT was not a court of competent jurisdiction to handle the criminal charges preferred against him.
“The CCT is a court of criminal jurisdiction, albeit limited jurisdiction,” the court stated.
“The immediate question is whether it is a court or not. There is no inherent difference between a court and a tribunal. The only difference is that tribunals in most cases handle special cases.
“The tribunal has power to impose sanctions according to the law. It is a court with specific criminal jurisdiction.”
Regarding whether the CCT was properly constituted to try Saraki, the three-man panel of judges led by Moore Adumein held that the tribunal was properly constituted to try the senate president.
Adumein stated that the two-man panel of the CCT was the minimum quorum required according to the interpretation act to sit in judgment on any issue; hence the tribunal did not err in law to commence trial against Saraki with a two-man panel.
Adumein also held that Muslim Hassan, a deputy director at the ministry of justice, on the authority of the solicitor-general of federation- in the absence of the attorney-general of the federation- could institute criminal proceedings against him.
Saraki had argued that the case against him was not properly instituted as there was no attorney-general to do so.
But a second judge in the panel disagreed with this part of the judgment on the grounds that Hassan did not prove that he was authorised by the solicitor-general to institute criminal proceedings against Saraki.
However, a third judge in the panel concurred with the lead judgment upon which the senate president’s appeal was dismissed.
Speaking through Mahmud Magagi, his counsel, the senate president, said he will appeal against the judgment at the supreme court.
Saraki had approached the court, seeking to stop his trial for alleged false declaration of assets at the CCT.
Arguing the appeal on October 16, Joseph Daodu (SAN), Saraki’s lawyer, urged the court to halt the trial of his client at the CCT on the grounds that the tribunal was not properly constituted, and that it had no powers to handle criminal matters.