The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered stay of proceedings of the trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on 13 counts of false assets declaration.
The order of Justice John Fabiyi-led five-man panel of the apex court followed a concession given by the Federal Government’s counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), for the proceedings of the tribunal to be halted if Saraki’s main appeal would be given an accelerated hearing.
The decision on Thursday came after Saraki’s lead counsel, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), had argued his client’s motion for stay of the CCT’s proceedings, and while Jacobs was responding.
In a unanimous decision read by Justice Fabiyi, the apex court ordered the tribunal “to tarry awhile.”
He ordered Jacobs to file his respondents’ brief in response to Saraki’s appellant’s brief served on him in court on Thursday within seven days.
The Supreme Court also ordered Daudu to file further response to Jacobs’ brief, if he so desired within seven days thereafter.
Justice Fabiyi said the date for the hearing of the appeal would be communicated to parties in due course.
With the Thursday’s order, the tribunal could no longer sit on the case which was already adjourned till November 19.
Saraki had appealed to the Supreme Court against the October 30, 2015 judgment of the Court of Appeal which affirmed the competence of the charges instituted against him and the jurisdiction of the CCT to try him.
Some lawyers, who appeared for Saraki at the tribunal on November 5, stormed out of the courtroom in protest against a ruling of the CCT, led by Danladi Umar, rejecting their request to adjourn the trial indefinitely because of the pending appeal before the Supreme Court.
The tribunal chairman had adjourned till November 19 to enable Saraki to engage new lawyers.
A two-to-one split decision of the Court of Appeal in Abuja had, on October 30, dismissed Saraki’s appeal against the competence of the tribunal and the charges against him comprising 13 counts of false declaration of assets while he was Kwara State Governor in 2003.
In his substantive appeal to the Supreme Court against the appeal court judgment, Saraki maintained that the panel of the CCT was not well constituted because it comprised two members instead of three provided for by law.
He also, among other grounds, argued that the charges against him were incompetent since they were filed in the absence of the Attorney-General of the Federation.