Embattled Senate President, Bukola Saraki, made another effort today to use shady legal maneuvers to obtain a court order stopping his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja.
SaharaReporters learned that the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Ibrahim Auta, personally conspired with Mr. Saraki to secure the court order, and traveled to Lagos to oversee the process. However, the legal plot was upended when a lawyer for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), who was tipped off about the legal hanky-panky, appeared in court.
Justice Auta had assigned the case to Justice Ibrahim Buba, a judge with a reputation for granting injunctions that permanently protect corrupt politicians in Nigeria. But as Justice Buba was about to grant an injunction ordering the Code of Conduct Tribunal to stop Senator Saraki’s trial, an EFCC lawyer showed up. The lawyer’s unexpected appearance threw Justice Buba off balance. The EFCC lawyer told Justice Buba that all the defendants had not been served the notice and urged him not to grant any orders, reminding him that the public was watching the case closely.
A flustered Justice Buba then adjourned the case till November 2, 2015, telling Mr. Saraki’s lawyers to ensure that they put other defendants on notice.
Mr. Saraki’s decision to seek an injunction to stop his trial from another high court stemmed from the failure of theCourt of Appeal to issue such an order last Monday. SaharaReporters had stymied a plot by the appellate court to stop Mr. Saraki’s trial by exposing that former Supreme Court justice, Alfa Belgore, had brokered a deal with the justices to derail the senator’s continued prosecution.
A legal observer told SaharaReporters that it was curious that the Code of Conduct Tribunal agreed to adjourn its case until the Court of Appeal gave its ruling on Mr. Saraki’s appeal. “However, the fact that Senator Saraki and his lawyers decided to approach another high court today might mean that the Court of Appeal justices may have backed out of the deal to stop the trial,” said the expert.
Meanwhile, a politically connected source in Abuja told SaharaReporters that some officials of the Muhammadu Buhari administration were making efforts to halt Mr. Saraki’s trial administratively. According to this source, the Director General of Department of State Security (DSS), Lawal Musa Daura, and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, had been pressuring the Code of Conduct Tribunal to find a way to halt Mr. Saraki’s trial.
Another source in the Ministry of Justice also told SaharaReporters that there were moves to remove Rotimi Jacobs as the prosecutor in Mr. Saraki’s case. The source said Mr. Jacobs was perceived as too principled and resolute to be party to an administrative arrangement that would scuttle the case.