The trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on 13 counts of false assets declaration is to resume March 10 before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Our correspondent confirmed that the CCT issued hearing notices and served same on parties to the case on Friday.
This followed a letter written on behalf of the Federal Government by the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), intimating the tribunal of the recent judgement of the Supreme Court validating the trial.
It was learnt that Jacobs sent the letter with a copy of the Supreme Court’s judgement attached to it to the Danladi Umar-led CCT on Monday.
The Head, Press and Public Relations of the CCT, Mr. Ibraheem Al-hassan, confirmed to our correspondent that the tribunal issued and served hearing notices on the parties on Friday.
“We have issued and served the hearing notice today,” Alhassan said.
A seven-man panel of the Supreme Court presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, unanimously ruled in its judgement on February 5 that Saraki’s appeal against the jurisdiction of the CCT and the competence of the charges lacked merit.
Justice Walter Onnoghen, who delivered the lead judgement, dismissed all Saraki’s seven grounds of appeal, affirming that the charges instituted against him were valid and that the tribunal was validly constituted with requisite jurisdiction to try him.
The CJN and other members of the full panel of the apex court, comprising Justices Tanko Muhammad, Sylvester Ngwuta, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Chima Nweze and Amiru Sanusi, also consented to the judgement.
The judgement of the Supreme Court terminated an earlier order of a panel of the apex court presided over by now retired Justice John Fabiyi, which had on November 12, 2015, stayed proceedings in the trial of the senate president.
In the 13 counts initiated by the Federal Government, Saraki was said to have made false assets declaration in his forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau as a two-term governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.
The senate president, who was said to have submitted four assets declaration forms which were allegedly investigated by the CCB, was found to have “corruptly acquired many properties while in office as governor of Kwara State but failed to declare some of them in the said forms earlier filled and submitted.”
He also allegedly made an anticipatory declaration of assets upon his assumption of office as governor, which he later acquired.
Saraki is also accused of sending money abroad for the purchase of property in London and that he maintained an account outside Nigeria while serving as governor.
Saraki initially refused to appear before the tribunal prompting it (the CCT) to issue a bench warrant against him.
The senate president failed in his bid to get the Danladi Umar-led tribunal to quash the 13 counts, after he was arraigned on September 22, 2015.
He appealed to the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, against the decision of the CCT to continue the trial.
But by a two-to-one split decision of its three-man bench led by Justice Moore Admein, the Court of Appeal dismissed the senate president’s appeal.
Saraki, in his further appeal to the Supreme Court, asked the apex court to quash the charges filed against him on the grounds that the CCT lacked jurisdiction to try him as it was constituted by two instead of three members.
The apex court upheld the argument by the Federal Government’s lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), and held that contrary to Saraki’s contention, the Danladi Umar-led CCT was validly constituted by two members.
He held that while the Constitution under Paragraph 15(1) of the 5th Schedule provides that the CCT must be composed by the Chairman and two members, the law was silent on the quorum of the tribunal that could validly conduct its proceedings.
Affirming the contention of the prosecution to the effect that the chairman and one member of the tribunal could form a quorum for the tribunal, Justice Onnoghen cited the provisions of section 28 of the Interpretation Act, which stipulates that the quorum of any tribunal, commission of inquiry, “shall not be less than two.”