The Code of Conduct Tribunal Friday fixed further hearing in the case brought against Senate President Bukola Saraki by the Federal Government for March 18.
The tribunal adjourned the case when the accused person’s new lawyer, Kanu Agabi, SAN, apologised for not serving the prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, personally with a fresh motion challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal.
Mr. Jacobs, however, insisted that the matter must proceed, adding that Agabi’s motion was not ripe for hearing.
Mr. Saraki was alleged to have corruptly acquired many properties between 2003 and 2011 while he was Governor of Kwara State but failed to list them in his assets declaration form earlier filed and submitted to the relevant authorities.
It was also alleged that Saraki made anticipatory declarations of assets upon his assumption of office as Governor of Kwara State, which he acquired later.
It was further alleged that the Senate president sent money abroad for the purchase of properties in London and that he maintained accounts outside Nigeria while serving as Kwara State Governor between 2003 and May 2011.
Based on the alleged violations of the Code of Conduct for public officers, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) began a criminal proceeding against the former Kwara governor before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
However, Saraki, who pleaded not guilty to all the charges, has challenged the competence of the tribunal to try him, saying that the case was not initiated by due process of law.
The Senate president through his lawyers led by Mr. Agabi, filed an application asking the chairman of the tribunal, Danladi Umar, to hands-off trial of the 13-count charges preferred against him by the FG.
According to Saraki, the charges against him were brought in bad faith and not in public interest, adding that the Attorney General of the Federation did not fulfil all the condition precedents capable of conferring jurisdiction on the tribunal to try him.
He, therefore, applied for the charges to be quashed, as well as an order discharging him.
Opposing the application, the prosecutor accused the Senate president of engaging on what he termed “judicial forum shopping” in a desperate attempt to frustrate his trial.
Stressing that the business of the day was for full-blown trial to commence, Mr. Jacobs told the tribunal that he was yet to be served with a copy of the motion even as he urged it to dismiss the “frivolous application” and proceed with hearing on the case.
The prosecutor argued that the issue of jurisdiction raised by Mr. Saraki in his fresh motion had already been decided by the Supreme Court and the Abuja Division of the Appeal Court.
Relying on section 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, the Mr. Jacobs contended that since the defendant had earlier entered his plea to the charge, any further objection he has against the proceeding ought to be considered at the end of the trial.
After listening to arguments from both sides, Justice Umar adjourned till Marc 18 for moving of the motion and possible hearing of the substantive case.
The tribunal chairman also directed Mr. Agabi to serve all the relevant processes to the prosecution before the next adjourned date.