Before then, is CCT a Court?
This shouldn’t derail us because the answer took a divisive stance before the Justices of Court of Appeal. See the case of SARAKI V. FRN in appeal No. CA/A/551/2015 delivered on the 30th day of October 2015, for proper elaboration.
Straight to the point, the Supreme Court had settled the question that Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) is not a Superior Court of Record.
Per Onnoghen JSC (now CJN) in SARAKI v. FRN (2016) LPELR-40013(SC) held thus:
“However, looking closely at the provisions of the 5th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution, as amended and the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, earlier referred to in this judgment, it is safer to hold that the said Tribunal has a quasi-criminal jurisdiction designed by the 1999 Constitution, as amended. It is a peculiar Tribunal crafted by the Constitution. In the circumstance, I hold the strong view that as a Tribunal with quasi-criminal jurisdiction with authority to be guided by the Criminal Procedure Act or Code in the conduct of its proceedings, it can legally issue bench warrant for the purpose of carrying out its quasi criminal jurisdiction. I should not be understood as saying that the Code of Conduct Tribunal is a Court of superior record or jurisdiction with relevant inherent powers and sanctions but that as a quasi-criminal Tribunal/Court, it has the necessary powers to put into effect its mandate of ensuring accountability, probity, transparency etc of public officers in public office.”
Similarly, in METUH V. FRN(2017) ALL FWLR PT. 901, Justice Ogunbiyi said:
“This court (the Supreme Court) pronounced also in Olubukola Saraki V Federal Republic of Nigeria (2016) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1500) SC 531 that the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) is not a court of superior record of jurisdiction, but a court of qusi-criminal jurisdiction.”
Apart from the above Decisions of the Supreme Court which everyone is bound by it by virtue of _Section 287(1) of the 1999 Constitution , more importantly, _Paragraph 15(1) of Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution & Section 20(1) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, LFN 2004_didn’t provide CCT to be such.
The Act merely provides in its Section 20(1) that:
“There is hereby established a tribunal to be known as the Code of Conduct Tribunal (in this Act referred to as “the Tribunal”).”
The Act merely states further in subsection (3) thus:
“The chairman shall be a person who has held or is qualified to hold office as a Judge of a superior court of record in Nigeria and shall receive such remuneration as may be prescribed by law.”
Therefore, assuming the National Assembly wanted it to be a Superior Court of Record, (which the Constitution did not allow) which will ignite discussions on the constitutionality of such, it would have been specifically stated in sub (1), just like they expressly mentioned that the Chairman must have held or qualified as a Judge of Superior Court of Record in sub (3).
In HALSBURY’S LAWS OF ENGLAND, 4th Edn, volume 44 at page 125, it was said that:
“…the legislature is deemed not to waste its words or say anything in vain.”
Notably, apart from Section 6(5) which made the Federal High Court to be a Superior Court of Record, the National Assembly went further to reinvigorate it in Section 1(3) of the Federal High Court Act thus:
“(3)The Court shall be a superior court of record and, save as otherwise provided by law, shall have all the powers of the High Court of any of the States in the Federation.”
See also Section 1(3) of the National Industrial Court Act
This is absent and cannot be implied into the powers of the CCT.
Interestingly, some writers tend to submit that Section 6(3) had given the CCT a leeway to be construed as a Superior Court being a creation of the Constitution or CCB/T Act because the Subsection went further to state that “save as otherwise prescribed”.
For clarity, it provides:
“The courts to which this section relates, established by this Constitution for the Federation and for the States, specified in subsection (5) (a) to (i) of this section, shall be the only superior courts of record in Nigeria; and save as otherwise prescribed by the National Assembly or by the House of Assembly of a State, each court shall have all the powers of a superior court of record” (emphasis added)
With respect, this position is not correct because the Subsection employed the conjunction “AND ” and not “OR”.
If it were to be “OR”, then the argument may be sound because when employed in an enactment, it means it is disjunctive. See Section 18(3) of the Interpretation Act, LFN 2004 and ALHAJI ATIKU ABUBAKAR vs. YAR’ADUA (2009) ALL FWLR (PT. 457) 1 at 76 – 86 paragraphs G – D., this Court per KATSINA-ALU, JCA (as he then was)
However, what then does the word “AND” mean within that Subsection ?
In the case of OGUNYADE vs. OSHUNKEYE (2007) 15 NWLR (PT. 1057) page 218 at page 245 paras E – H , it was inter-alia held thus:
“I cannot fault the Court of Appeal. The Court is correct. In grammar or syntax, a sentence does not end with the word “and”. It is a conjunction playing the role in grammatical construction of connecting words or phrases expressing the idea that the later is to be added or taken along with the first.”
Therefore, the word “AND” is qualifying the lists of Superior Courts mentioned in Section 6(5)(a)-(I) that they shall have the powers of a superior Court except if the National Assembly or State House of Assembly states otherwise (within their respective legislative competence). See BENJAMIN V. KALLIO(2018)All FWLR.
Finally, it is submitted that Code of Conduct Tribunal is not a Superior Court of Record in Nigeria.
BALOGUN SOFIYULLAHI writes from Faculty of Law, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.