Group petitions EFCC over alleged role of deputy Supreme Court in Saraki’s trial
A coalition, Civil Society Network against Corruption (CSNAC), has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to investigate the alleged role played by Deputy Supreme Court Registrar Mrs. Sarki-Bello, in the decision by a panel of Justices of the apex court to temporarily halt the corruption trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
In a petition signed by the coalition’s chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, CSNAC said the anti-graft agency should investigate the allegation as first narrated by an online Newspaper, Sahara Reporters, stating that the probe will go a long way in bringing sanity back to the judiciary while also restoring the confidence of citizens in the Supreme Court, as the harbinger of justice and rule of law in Nigeria.
According to the report scooped from the online Newspaper, Mrs. Sarki- Bello is said to have seized the opportunity of the absence of the Chief Justice of Nigeria to arrange with a few ethically questionable justices to quickly hear Saraki’s case and grant him a temporary reprieve from the ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
“Furthermore, it was reported that the deputy registrar met several times with Toyin Sanusi, a former aide to Governor Ahmed Abdul Fatah of Kwara State, who now works for Dr. Saraki in Abuja, to cut the deal for the embattled Senator. According to the report, Mrs. Sarki-Bello is very close ally of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Alfa Belgore (Rtd), who had been anchoring several attempts at bribing justices to halt Mr. Saraki’s trial. Mrs. Sarki-Bello, who hails from Niger State, was allegedly promoted from level 9 to level 16 between 2006 and 2007 when Justice Belgore was the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“In the report, Mr. Sanusi, a close aide and confidant of Mr. Saraki drove in and out of a house on Mandela Street in the Asokoro area of Abuja where he and Mrs. Sarki-Bello met with some of the Justices who sat on Mr. Saraki’s case. Justice John Fabiyi, who is scheduled to mandatorily retire from the Supreme Court on November, 25, 2015, his 70th birthday date was eventually tabbed to lead in the case. Other members of the panel included Justices Suleiman Galadima, K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun, John Inyang Okoro and Amiru Sanusi.
“Furthermore, on sensing that the Supreme Court panel was bent on truncating the Senator’s trial, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, had urged the justices to let the Code of Conduct Tribunal suspend the trial to enable him file his defense and make a solid case for continuing Mr. Saraki’s trial for false declaration of assets. But the lead judge, Justice Fabiyi, refused his application. During the hearing, Justice Fabiyi at a point stated that as judges, they were not bound by a new Criminal Justice Administration Act set of rules that prevents courts from interfering with criminal proceedings. A source in the judiciary disclosed that Justice Fabiyi was notorious for rendering shaky or even baffling verdicts designed to please or serve powerful political interests.
“After the 2007 presidential elections, he was the Justice who read the majority judgment asserting that the massively rigged elections conformed to the electoral act. Consequently, he declared the now late President Umaru Yar’Adua the valid winner of the election. Mr. Yar’Adua himself later admitted, before his death, that the elections were rigged.
SaharaReporters also alleged the involvement of Justice Fabiyi in a deal with Olabode George, a henchman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which resulted in the Supreme Court reversing the politician’s conviction for fraud lower courts. A source at the Supreme Court was said to have told SaharaReporters that there was a good chance that the Chief Justice of Nigeria would reconstitute the panel that will continue to hear Mr. Saraki’s case.”
Urging for an investigation on the issue, the coalition said, “it is evident that this is a clear case of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and high level of corruption. The Supreme Court which is the highest court in the country has a huge role of setting binding judicial precedents for lower courts. You will agree with us that where corruption is allowed to fester at such level and questionable and ridiculous decisions are reached by the panel, it will lead to a dangerous trend in judicial decisions as lower courts will be bound to follow such precedent except where the Supreme Court overrules itself, which rarely happens.
“From the foregoing, CSNAC is therefore demanding a thorough investigation and prosecution, where found culpable, of the deputy court registrar Mrs. Sarki-Bello on the allegation of bribery, corruption and subversion of the course of justice, for her role in the controversial circumstances that culminated in the halting of the trial of the Senate President before the Code of Conduct Trial by the Supreme Court. This will go a long way in bringing sanity back to the judiciary while also restoring the confidence of citizens in the Supreme Court, as the harbinger of justice and rule of law in Nigeria.”