In a controversial and surprising move, the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has issued a hearing notice regarding a jurisdiction case filed by lawyers representing embattled Senate President, Bukola Saraki. A judicial source told SaharaReporters that the Court of Appeal issued the notice late Friday, a move the source described as not only surprising but suspicious.
Mr. Saraki’s lawyers want the Court of Appeal to halt his trial now going on at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) before Justice Danladi Umar. The senator’s huge legal team, comprising 90 lawyers, has argued that is contending that the tribunal lacks the jurisdiction to try their client for false declaration of assets and corrupt enrichment.
Speaking to SaharaReporters this evening, a senior lawyer based in Abuja stated that it was untoward for the Court of Appeal to issue the notice of hearing on the matter of the CCT’s jurisdiction. “The prayers of Mr. Saraki's legal team are not different from the ones considered and resolved by the Supreme Court this year. As the country’s apex court, the ruling of the Supreme Court on the matter of jurisdiction is and should be the last word. And the court cleared the way for the tribunal to commence trial of Dr. Saraki,” he said.
If the Court of Appeal grants a stay of the trial tomorrow, Mr. Saraki's trial would not resume on Wednesday as planned. Our judicial source alleged that the senator’s plot could be to keep his case in the Court of Appeal for several months. “If he succeeds, then the Federal Government will not be able to continue his trial or to get to the Supreme Court,” he stated.
In a related development, a source at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said the agency was trailing the movement of more than $900,000 they believe was being laundered by the Kwara State government using a woman named Halima Suleiman. The EFCC source said Ms. Suleiman is an indigene of Jigawa State, but her mother hails from Edo State.
The anti-corruption source disclosed that the EFCC was interested in discovering both how the funds were sourced and where they would end up.
The Court of Appeal’s reopening of Mr. Saraki’s contention that the CCT does not have the jurisdiction to try him has raised suspicions that the senator’s associates may have reached some judges willing to help him scuttle his trial.