We’re set to arrest Saraki —Police

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Tribunal asks police to bring him on Monday •I’ll protect my rights —Senate president.

Nigeria Police has stated that it will arrest Senate president Bukola Saraki as ordered by the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Friday.

Force Public Relations Officer, Mrs Olabisi Kolawole, told our reporter on telephone at 5pm on Friday that police operatives would arrest the Senate president as soon as they receive the order of the tribunal.

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), sitting in Abuja on Friday, had issued a bench warrant of arrest on the Senate President, who is facing a 13-count charge preferred against him by the Federal Government.

Saraki has, however, appealed the ruling praying the Appeal Court to set the arrest order aside. He was in his official residence at the time of going to press last night.

The Senate President was charged before the tribunal over allegations bordering on false and improper declaration of assets allegedly acquired during his tenure as governor of Kwara State from 2003-2011.

Justice Danlami Umar, who is the chairman of the tribunal, in a ruling during the hearing of the matter on Friday also ordered the Inspector General of Police to arrest Saraki and produce him before the tribunal on Monday to take his plea in the 13-count charge slammed against him.

The Federal Government had on September 11, filed a 13-count charge against Saraki before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which fixed Friday for his arraignment.

However, in a bid to stop his arraignment, Saraki, on Thursday, approached the Federal High Court in Abuja with a motion ex-parte seeking to restrain the Federal Government, Code of Conduct Bureau and tribunal from arraigning him.

The trial judge at the high court, Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed, in a ruling in chambers summoned the chairmen of CCB, CCT and a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Musiliu S. Hassan, to appear before him on Monday to show cause why Saraki’s request should not be granted.

When the matter came up on Friday before the tribunal, Saraki was represented by Joseph.B Daudu and Mahmud Magaji, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN).

Prosecution counsel, Musiliu Hassan noted that the accused was not in court to take his plea in the criminal charges preferred against him, despite the fact that he was served with the summons and prayed the tribunal to issue a bench warrant of arrest on him (Saraki) for disobedience of court orders.

Opposing the application, Magaji submitted that the charge, as well as the prosecution lacked validity to come before the tribunal on the grounds that there is no incumbent Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
He further argued that there was a subsisting ruling of the Federal High Court which had summoned chairmen of CCB, CCT and Hassan.

The tribunal later stood down the matter for about three hours and the presiding judge, Justice Umar, in his ruling, held that the tribunal took notice of the fact that there is no AGF at the moment.

Umar further held that the absence of the AGF does not stop the filing of a criminal charge, adding that in the absence of the AGF, the Solicitor General can institute such a charge thus knocking off the accused’s argument.

On the issue of a susbsisting ruling, the tribunal held that the Federal High Court has the same jurisdiction with it, and hence, it is not bond by its ruling and the Judge held that the tribunal will go ahead with the trial.

The tribunal also noted that it was clear that the accused person had been served with the summons, as such was shown by the proof of service, adding that, “no court of co-ordinate jurisdiction can halt the proceedings of this tribunal.

“This tribunal called on the Senate President to come and stand his trial. The defendant is expected to respect the constitution he swore to uphold,” Justice Umar held and ordered the Inspector General of Police to produce the Senate President before him on Monday, being the next adjourned date, to take his plea.

In the charge, Saraki was alleged to have made false declaration in the Assets Declaration Form for Public Officers on assumption of office as the executive governor of Kwara State in 2003 by making anticipatory declaration of a property at No 15A and 15B McDonald, Ikoyi, Lagos, when in actual fact the property was sold to him in 2006 in the sum of N396, 150, 000 by the Implementation Committee on the Federal Government Landed Properties.

Saraki was said in the charge to have committed an offence under Section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, Cap. C15, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and as incorporated under paragraphs 11(1) and (2) of Part I, Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and punishable under Section 23 (2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act and as incorporated under paragraph 18 of Part I, Fifth Schedule to Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

Saraki was also alleged to have, between October 2006 and May 2007, while he was the governor of Kwara State, acquired a property from the Implementation Committee on the Federal Government Landed Properties after his declaration while assuming office in the sum of N497, 200, 000 million, a sum which is not fairly attributable to his income, gift or loan approved by the Code of Conduct for Public Officers and which he wrongly claimed to have acquired from proceeds of sale of rice and sugar commodities.

The offence is said to be punishable under Section 23 (2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act and as incorporated under paragraph 18 of Part I, Fifth Schedule to Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

In addition, Saraki was alleged to have on 3rd June, 2011 made a false declaration in the Assets Declaration Form for Public Officers at the end of his tenure as governor of Kwara State in 2011 by refusing to declare Plot 2A, Glover Road, Ikoyi, Lagos which he acquired between 2007 and 2008 through his company, Carlisle Properties Limited from Central Bank of Nigeria, for a total sum of N325 million.

The offence is said be committed under Section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, Cap. C15, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and as incorporated under paragraphs 11(1) and (2) of Part I, Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

The offence is said to be punishable under Section 23 (2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and tribunal Act and as incorporated under paragraph 18 of Part I, Fifth Schedule to Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

Meanwhile,Saraki has, through his counsel, J. B Daudu, filed an appeal challenging the ruling of the tribunal which ordered the Inspector General of Police to arrest and bring him before the tribunal on Monday.

In his ground of appeal, Saraki submitted that the tribunal erred in law by assuming jurisdiction over his criminal trial at the tribunal for a charge, which is being challenged at the Federal High Court.

In his particulars of error, Saraki stated that at the time the lower Tribunal overruled his application to discharge the Order for Bench Warrant for his arrest by the respondent, there existed an order of the Federal High Court which was served on the tribunal.

He further submitted that the appellant filed an application dated September 17 challenging the jurisdiction of the lower tribunal to adjudicate on the charge brought before it and submitted that it is trite that when an accused files an application challenging the jurisdiction of a court/tribunal to adjudicate on the charge brought before it, the accused need not be in court.

The appellant asked the court of appeal to set aside the arrest order.

I will protect my rights —Saraki
Meanwhile, Saraki, in a statement on Friday evening vowed to protect his fundamental human rights, even as he alleged that the tribunal was “acting under political influence and external influence.”

The statement, signed by the Senate president’s spokesman, Yusuph Olaniyonu with the title: “CCT Defiance of Subsisting Court Order : Our Stand”, reads:

“Following the development in the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) today, Friday, September 18, 2015 when the

Tribunal chose to ignore the subsisting order of a Federal High Court by sitting, we hereby state our position as follows:

“While the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, had stated and maintains that he is ready to submit himself to due process of the law on any issue concerning him, he also believes he has an inalienable right to resort to the same judiciary for protection when he feels his fundamental rights are about to be infringed upon.
“It is for this reason that Dr. Saraki, having satisfied himself that the case filed by the CCB and the manner in which the case was filed show that he will not be given justice, resorted to the Federal High Court for the determination of the issues of competence of the prosecutor as well as compliance with the procedure stipulated in the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.

“The Federal High Court on Thursday, September 17, 2015, therefore ordered that the all parties in the case should appear before it on Monday, September 21, 2015. The implication of this ruling by a court of competent jurisdiction is that the sitting today has been overtaken by event. It is for this reason that Dr. Saraki chose to go about with his normal official schedule.

“Today at the Tribunal, Counsel for the Senate President, Mr. M. A. Mahmud (SAN), raised a motion stating that there is a pending constitutional matter before the Federal High Court to be decided on Monday and that the Tribunal should hold the trial until the constitutional matter is disposed of.

“We are however dismayed that the Tribunal chose to disregard the order of the Federal High Court and the motion to suspend hearing till Monday when all parties are expected to argue their positions on the constitutional matter.

“It is also a surprise to us that despite the application by the lead counsel for the Senate President that he will produce Dr. Saraki on Monday and the personality of the person involved as the number three man in the country, the Tribunal insisted on issuing a warrant of arrest as if its intention is simply to embarrass Dr. Saraki. We are not unmindful of the fact that the Tribunal is acting under political influence and external pressure. This is dangerous to our democracy.

“The conduct of the Tribunal today left nobody in doubt that it cannot do justice on the matter before it. It is also clear that today’s decision is an abuse of the rule of law which portends danger to our judicial system. The Tribunal has equally set a bad precedent in the way and manner it conducted itself during the proceedings.

“We want to emphasise the fact that this is not part of any war against corruption but using state institutions to fight political opponents and seeking to achieve, through the backdoor, what some people cannot get through democratic process.

“We need to caution here that in a desperate bid to settle political scores and nail imaginary enemies, we should not destroy our democratic institutions and heat the polity for selfish reasons. Let us all learn from history.

“The Senate President is a law-abiding citizen and his absence from the Tribunal today was based on the legal advice he received from his counsel that the Tribunal will respect the decision of the Federal High Court which is obviously a superior court of records. Also, he relied on a letter from the Chief Justice of Nigeria, directed to the chairman of the Tribunal last May that they are not judicial officers and are inferior to the regular High Court as defined by the law and that they take official oath not judicial oath.

“We will like to state therefore that Dr. Saraki will not do anything to undermine the judicial process and authority but he will always act to protect his fundamental human rights.”

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