The Presidency, some powerful politicians from the North -West and an APC stalwart were behind the unexpected postponement of judgement in the appeal filed by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, seeking to stop his trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The Appeal Court in Abuja this afternoon adjourned indefinitely Senate President Bukola Saraki’s case against jurisdiction of Code of conduct Tribunal. No new date has been fixed for the judgment.
Saraki and his supporters left the Court of Appeal, Abuja disappointed when the court declined to deliver its judgment earlier scheduled for Monday.
Sources confirmed immediately after the indefinite adjournment that there was pressure to delay the judgement at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division.
Another said the delay in Senate screening of former Rivers state governor, Rotimi Amaechi was at the root of the adjournment. He accused Saraki of being recalcitrant over Amaechi’s travails at the Senate.
“What became curious was that no reason was given for the delay in the case, which was said to be ‘sine die’ (indefinite), with findings revealing that high-wired politics and pressure were at play some hours to the judgement”.
Speaking to some journalists, the source said; “A governor from the north-west, the Presidency and some APC chieftains all mounted pressure for the delay of the judgement.
“You can see that the courtroom is even under lock and key, which is not the usual practice when we are not sitting. I don’t know why today should be an exception.”
The court had fixed 2pm for the judgement but when the parties in the case including their lawyers and journalists got to the venue, they were surprised to see the court room doors under lock and key.
The appellate court failed to fix a date for the judgment with the Registrar, Mrs. Christie Aruna, explaining that the court has resolved to communicate a new date to parties in the suit.
Aruna however did not give detailed information on why the delivery of the judgment by the Presiding Judge, Justice Moore Adumein was put off.
The appellate court had, on Friday, after taking arguments from parties, fixed judgment for 2 pm Monday in the appeal filed by Saraki.
Saraki, who was arraigned last month before the CCT on a 13-count charge of false asset declaration, is appealing the tribunal’s decision to assume jurisdiction over his trial.
Monday’s development generated confusion on why the Court of Appeal, which had promised to deliver its judgment in the appeal before the next hearing date at the CCT, could not do so and without fixing the judgment for a new date.
No prior notice was given to lawyers in the case that the judgment would no longer be delivered on Monday.
A large number of people interested in the case and journalists, many of whom had already set up their cameras at the entrance of the courtroom ahead of the 2pm scheduled for the judgment on Monday, were left confused.
For a court that normally opens for business even when the Justices are not sitting, the door to the courtroom was locked.
One of the defence counsel, Mr. Kehinde Eleja (SAN), who addressed journalists on the development, said he had been able to reach the court registrar, who informed him that the judgment was not ready.
At the hearing of the appeal on Friday, the Court of Appeal struck out an application for a stay of the CCT’s proceedings filed by Saraki’s lead counsel, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN).
The appeal panel said it would amount to judicial waste of time if it went ahead to hear the appeal and had to deliver a separate ruling on it after the main appeal had been heard.
Saraki is facing 13 counts of false asset declaration charges, to which he pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned before the tribunal on September 22.
The application for stay of the CCT’s proceedings, filed by Saraki’s lawyer, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), was struck out by the Justice Moore Adumein-led Court of Appeal panel on Wednesday on the assumption that it would no longer be necessary to hear it since judgment, which would effectively decide the fate of the case at the CCT, would be delivered before the next hearing date of the tribunal.
This appears to have cleared the way for the trial of Saraki on 13 counts of false asset declaration to commence as scheduled on October 21 (Wednesday).
The Senate President is challenging the trial on, among other grounds, that the panel of the CCT, comprising two judges instead of three, was not properly constituted.
He also contended that the CCT, not being a court, could not exercise judicial powers and that the charges, filed at the time an Attorney-General of the Federation had not been appointed, were incompetent.
Meanwhile The Senate will decide Amaechi’s case Tuesday. The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions will tomorrow submit its report on a petition against the nomination of former Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, as minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, told reporters that Senate Ethics committee had concluded its report on the petition against Amaechi’s nomination and will present it to the Senate on Tuesday for consideration.
Amaechi, who was on the first batch of ministerial nominees, had his screening delayed because of a petition against his nomination by a Port Harcourt based organization known as “The Integrity Group.”
The group claimed in its voluminous petition that Amaechi mismanaged N70 billion Rivers State funds when was governor of the state.