A former Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Samson Odemwingie Uwaifo, has asked the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to hands off the criminal trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
This is coming days after the tribunal dismissed a motion seeking to quash a 13-count charge of false and anticipatory asset declaration initiated against him.
Justice Uwaifo made the submission last week Friday when he spoke on “The Code of Conduct enshrined in the Constitution of Nigeria and its crucial importance in the fight against corruption” at a seminar organised by Ben Nwabueze Centre for Studies in Constitutional Law and Related Subjects.
According to him, the tribunal, which functions among others, were strictly administrative, lacked the requisite powers to adjudicate on criminal matters as “the claim that the tribunal has and can exercise criminal jurisdiction over him is tenuous in substance, ambivalent in direction and ambiguous in meaning.”
He, however, insisted that the CCT must be stopped from further trying the Senate President or putting his liberty at risk on the alleged criminal offence as its continued handling of the matter had become an embarrassment to the nation’s administration of criminal justice.
He said: “I need to remark, however, that the tendency to get the Code of Conduct Tribunal and probably similar bodies to intrude into the administration of criminal justice is not a welcome development. It is, indeed, a challenge to our constitutional democracy, which puts the liberty of individuals at risk. It is also a challenge to the foresight of anyone who fails to appreciate this dire consequence.”
Besides, he asked the CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar, to purge himself of the allegation of bias hanging on his neck, just as he described Saraki’s trial as not only a charade, but politically inclined.
He said: “It is now open secret that the power behind the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) did not back him (Saraki) for that office. It is fair to see a connection between that circumstance and the Code of Conduct matter.
“There is the rumour that the chairman of the CCT has an alleged crime hanging over him, which might give the impression that he may be willing to act as the hatchet man over Saraki to save him the prospect of the alleged crime not seeing the light of the day by way of prosecution.
“Looking at the treatment Saraki has received so far in the tribunal presided over by the said chairman who might or is deemed to know that there is the Sword of Damocles hanging over him; would the ordinary right-minded persons aware of the situation have the impression that there was a real likelihood of bias on his part to deny Saraki justice”?
Note: Supreme court recently gave judgement on this same issue.