Senate President, Bukola Saraki is expecting that the court will strike out the case brought against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) in line with similar conditions on which the former governor of Lagos State and a leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was released by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
Saraki’s new lawyer, Kanu Agabi (SAN), had, in a fresh motion filed before the CCT queried the competence of the charge against him and the jurisdiction of the CCT on the case claiming that he was not accorded fair hearing by the CCB before he was charged with alleged discrepancies in his asset declaration forms.
Arguing Saraki’s motion, Agabi said that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain the charges on, among other grounds, that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice lacked the power to file charges before the tribunal.
He also argued that the failure of the Code of Conduct Bureau to invite Saraki to confront him with the breaches in his assets declaration form was fatal to the validity of the charges.
On the contention that his client was not accorded fair hearing by the CCB, Agabi argued that compliance with Paragraph 3(d) to the 5th Schedule to the Constitution must be complied with where issues of breach is raised.
He said that by failing to first invite his client and confront him with the alleged discrepancies in his asset declaration, as required under Paragraph 3(d), before charging Saraki before the CCT, the condition precedent was not complied with, thereby denying the tribunal the requisite jurisdiction.
Agabi argued that the tribunal had struck out a case against former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, on the same ground of non-compliance with the provision of Paragraph 3(d). He urged the court to be guided by its decision in the Tinubu case and strike out the charge against his client.
Responding, Jacobs argued that that submission by Agabi was based on an old provision of the Constitution. He said the Paragraph 3(d) provision referred to by Agabi existed in the 1979 Constitution, which no longer exists in the 1999 Constitution.
His words: “In 1999 Constitution, the Paragraph 3(d) was removed so that the CCB and CCT can function maximally.
“They cannot use old law to defeat new provisions. In the Tinubu case, the tribunal found that it was misled into giving the decision it gave. The tribunal cannot commit the same error again.
“Assets Declaration is an oath. You go before a High Court to endorse the asset declaration form. It’s like an oath. The consequence of lying is criminal. It is like the law of perjury.”
Jacobs described Agabi’s argument as embarrassing and self-serving. Jacobs, who once served as an aide to Agabi while he was the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), wondered why his former principal would now argue against the power to initiate proceedings before the CCT.
“On their argument that the AGF cannot initiate proceedings before this tribunal, we are saying that issue, which is their No. 2 is embarrassing. They had earlier argued, up to the Supreme Court, that it is only the AGF that can initiate cases here. They dragged that case before the Supreme Court and lost. Then they have come back here to now argue the opposite, that the AGF cannot initiate a case before the CCT.
“Fortunately for me, I served with the lead defence lawyer (Agabi) as Special Assistant (SA) when he was the AGF. He signed several charges, which I prosecuted before this tribunal on his behalf. Some of these cases included those involving former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Jeremiah Useni, former Plateau State governor, Joshua Dariye, among others.
“He did not only sign those charges, I represented him. Having benefited and utilised those law, can he now come back to condemn the law? That is embarrassing. And it should not be accepted. The same AGF, who worked with that provision of the Constitution, cannot now argue that the EFCC cannot liaise with the CCB in investigating cases,” Jacobs insisted.
Jacobs argued that the fresh motion by Saraki was an abuse of court process because he had raised similar issues and sought the same reliefs in about four other motions he filed before different courts in the country.
He cited the cases marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/775/15, FHC/ABJ/CS/905/15 and FHC/ABJ/CS/1507/15 already filed by Saraki in attempt to frustrate his trial before the CCT.
CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar, adjourned to March 24 for ruling and possible commencement of trial.
Credits: The Nation