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Saraki to A’Court: My trial lacks due process

Details of the suit filed by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki at the Court of Appeal Abuja in Abuja regarding his ongoing trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over alleged false assets declaration came to light on Monday. In his appeal, Saraki is challenging his trial at the tribunal on the grounds that due process was not followed before the 13-count charge was preferred against him. He is also contending that he was not invited by the Code of Conduct Bureau to make a statement on the alleged discrepancies in the asset forms he submitted to the CCB as required by law before he was charged to court.

At the hearing on Monday, the court struck out an application brought by the Senate President asking the Code of Conduct Tribunal to stay proceedings pending determination of his appeal. The three-man panel of justices of the appellate court led by Justice Abdul Aboki, struck out the motion following an oral application for withdrawal of the motion moved by Saraki’s counsel, Mr Kanu Agabi (SAN). Agabi withdrew the application following hint that the panel was not inclined to take motions on stay of proceedings due to instant law. The federal government counsel Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) did not oppose Saraki withdrawal of the application.

In a brief ruling, Justice Aboki said the Court of Appeal was ready to hear and determine Saraki’s substantive appeal and the federal government cross-appeal by next week if the federal government through Rotimi Jacob(SAN) and Saraki’s lawyer Kanu Agabi (SAN) could file their briefs of arguments this week. No date has been fixed for hearing of the substantive appeal. Justice Aboki said the adjourned date will be communicated to parties in the matter as soon as all the court processes have been filed and exchanged by parties. In another development, the appeal by former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col Sambo Mohammed Dasuki (rtd) which also touches on stay of proceeding of his trial for unlawful possession of arms and money laundering could not be heard yesterday.

The Court of Appeal could not hear the appeal following the inability of the Federal Government (respondent) to file the brief of argument. FG’s counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) told the threemember panel of Justices of the appeal court that the appellant’s brief of argument was served on him last week and that by the practice of the court, he has 10 days to file his own respondent’s brief of arguments. Jacobs then asked for brief adjournment to enable him file his brief of argument. Counsel to Dasuki, Joseph Daudu (SAN) who witnessed the proceedings on Saraki’s appeal and the court hint on the application for stay, said he will not go on with Dasuki’s stay of proceeding until the federal government files a response. Justice Aboki subsequently said that the date for hearing will be reserved until all processes have been filed.

Also, the appeal filed by the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh has been adjourned to May 5, 2016 to enable counsel to the EFCC, Mr Sylvanus Tahir to file his brief of arguments to the issues raised by Metuh in his appeal. Metuh is asking the appeal court to set aside the ruling of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja, that he has a case to answer in the money laundering and corruption charges brought against him by the Federal Government.

Meanwhile, the appeal by Destra Investment Limited who is standing trial with Olisa Metuh has engaged Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN) to represent it in the matter. Dr. Onyeachi Ikpeazu (SAN) who has been representing both defendants then withdrew his representation from Destra Investment Limited. Court of Appeal ordered federal government lawyer Sylvanus Tahir who has filed composite brief of argument to file a proper brief of argument for Destra Investment appeal. Also on Monday, the appeal by the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra ( IPOB) could not go on as it was not slated on the course list. Justice Aboki then adjourned Nnamdi Kanu’s appeal to May 5, 2016 for hearing.

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