A Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday summoned the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to appear before it on September 21 over an attempted arraignment of the Senate President Olubukola Saraki without following the constitutional laid down procedure.
Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed ordered the chairmen of the two agencies to show cause why it should not be restrained from arraigning Saraki over allegations bordering on false and improper declaration of assets said to have acquired during his tenure as Governor of Kwara State (2003-2011).
The senate president who approached the court via an ex parte motion wants the Federal Ministry of Justice, CBB, CCT and M. S Hassan stopped from taking any further step to arraign or prefer any charge against him, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit he filed before the court.
The senate president is praying the court to declare that the Ministry of Justice has not complied with the provision of the 3rd Schedule of Section 24(1) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act to act before proffering a charge against him.
Hence, Justice Mohammed, ruling in his chambers, ordered the Federal Ministry of Justice, chairmen of the CCB, CCT and M. S Hassan (1st to 4th respondents) to appear before him on Monday to show cause why they should not be stopped from arraigning Saraki.
The judge ordered that the respondents in the motion should be served with all the court processes, including the motion of notice for the interim order or injunction, motion ex-parte, adding also that hearing notice should be served on all the respondents.
The order, the Judge held was made pursuant to the provision or Order 26 Rule 10 of the Federal High Court (Civil procedure) Rules 2009.
In the motion ex-parte argued by Mahmud Magaji (SAN), Saraki said based on the provision of Section 24 of the CCB and Tribunal Act, his prosecution before the tribunal shall be initiated by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) or any officer directed by him (AGF).
Magaji argued that “in the absence of any subsisting AGF in the time being, this court has the jurisdiction to direct parties to maintain status quo pending the hearing of the motion on notice.”
He further argued that since there is no subsisting AGF, the charge against him by the official of the Federal Ministry of Justice before the CCT is void as the provisions of section 24 (1) of the CCB and Tribunal was not complied with.
Recall that the senate president was to be arraigned today before the Code of Conduct Tribunal to face a 13-count charge preferred against him by the federal government.
Meanwhile, Senator Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi (Niger North) and his counterpart from Nasarawa South, Senator Hussain Salihu, yesterday said the charges brought against Saraki by the CCB remain allegations, and therefore would not be allowed to cause any distraction to the legislative agenda of the Senate.
The lawmakers while reacting to the suit against Saraki, said he had provided the needed leadership for the upper chamber of the National Assembly to define an efficient agenda that would make the legislature best represent the interest of the people.
In his comment on the charges against Saraki, Aliyu said: “I want to believe an allegation remains an allegation; and our laws are very clear. It is an allegation until it is proven otherwise I want to believe it remains an allegation. However, let’s take a closer look at what the allegations are, dating back to 2003 till today, I think there is something fishy about it. It is very obvious, of course we know what has happened since the inauguration of the eight Senate.
Also in his reaction, Senator Salihu (Nasarawa South) said those trying to dig into Saraki’s past because he is now senate president will soon be tired because the Senate will not abandon him as their duly elected leader.
Salihu said: “The charges against Saraki as far as I am concerned are just distractions, in the sense that we are talking about issues of 13 years ago and people are bringing it now.
“I think Nigerians should disregard such issues because they are distracting the National Assembly from doing its own constitutional work. And I don’t think that it is going to help us.
“What we are talking about now is how we are going to get power supply; how the ordinary man can send his children to school and the sick to get hospitals that will treat them.”