Senate President, Bukola Saraki arrived the courtroom of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja on Tuesday morning to face trial over a 13-count charge of corruption levelled against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), accompanied by about 50 sympathetic senators and members of house of representatives.
Mr. Saraki arrived the tribunal premises at 9:32 a.m. for the session and waited for an hour before the Tribunal chairman arrived the court room.
Leading the pack of Pro-Saraki senators who thronged the CCT courtroom in solidarity for the embattled Senate President are Senators Theodore Orji, Sam Egwu, Ike Ekweremadu, Shaba Lafiaji, Aliyu Wamakko, Rafiu Ibrahim, Tayo Alasoadura, Hamma Misau, Samuel Anyanwu and Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi, among others.
The embattled Saraki and his supporters reportedly converged at the
National Assembly before proceeding to the CCT in a convoy of buses. Mr. Saraki, it would be recalled, issued a statement late on Monday, declaring himself ready to attend the controversial assets declaration trial, following a failed bid to use court injunctions to halt the trial.
The tribunal had ruled Monday that Mr. Saraki must appear before it at 10am today. Mr. Saraki failed to appear before the tribunal during Monday’s sitting despite an arrest warrant issued against him by the tribunal last Friday.
Saraki, a former Governor of Kwara State, is facing charges bordering on corruption and false assets declaration. The CCT opened the trial last Friday but he failed to show up, albeit represented by a team of lawyers led by a former president of the Nigeria Bar Association, Joseph Daudu. Consequently, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, ordered the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, to effect the arrest of the senate president and produce him before the Tribunal on
Mr. Saraki’s lawyers immediately filed a suit at the Court of Appeal for a stay of execution. Despite the appeal, the Tribunal resumed the trial on Monday without the senate president appearing. At the hearing, Mr. Saraki’s lawyers objected to the sitting contending that the Tribunal was incompetently constituted. They argued that the 1999 Constitution provided that the Tribunal can only sit with three of its members, namely the chairman and two members present as against two – chairman and one member – which was the case when the trial resumed.
However, Mr. Umar responded by referring to the Interpretation Act, which says the chairman and one member could sit during any trial. The police had said weekend that it did not receive any order on Friday requesting it to arrest Mr. Saraki.
By Olisemeka Obeche (With Premium Times Reports)