Fait Accompli: Appeal Court “Rushing” Saraki Appeal, Suspected Of Being Influenced

The Court of Appeal in Abuja will Thursday continue its hearing of an application seeking to halt the prosecution of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, over alleged corruption.

The matter follows an earlier hearing on Monday.

Mr. Saraki is facing a 13-count charge of false declaration of assets and corruption at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The senate president denies the allegations, and wants the appeal court to stop his prosecution.

But government investigators and lawyers told PREMIUM TIMES they were uncomfortable with the speed given the case at the Appeal Court. They also criticised some of the court’s decisions on Monday.

During Monday’s proceedings, Mr. Saraki’s counsel, Mahmud Magaji, had withdrawn two earlier applications before the court and filed new ones seeking an accelerated hearing of Mr. Saraki’s appeal, and a stay of proceedings at the CCT.

The counsel to the Federal Government, Adebisi Adeniyi, countered by informing the court of his intention to file a counter affidavit to oppose the applications.

Following Mr. Magaji’s request, the presiding judge, Moore Adumein, announced that the matter would be stood down to enable Mr. Magaji serve the respondent’s counsel the applications he filed.

But, Mr. Adeniyi argued that since he received notice of the applications after the court had already taken the decision to stand down the matter, he would need time to properly study the motions, before filing counter affidavits to oppose them.

He argued for an extended time to respond.

But the judge said since the case against Mr. Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal had proceeded without delay, the appeal court should keep a good pace too.

“We cannot allow the judiciary to be ridiculed, because the matter is now before three courts. We would not allow a situation where the court would be seen as being used by a party,” she declared, before directing Mr. Adeniyi to ensure that he filed his counter affidavits before the close of work on Wednesday, October 7, 2015.

The judge, who announced that the applications would be determined before the next dates at the Code of Conduct Tribunal [October 21, 22 and 23], adjourned the matter till October 8, 2015 for a definite hearing.

On the application for stay of execution of proceedings, Justice Adumein noted that whenever there was an application before a higher court, it was incumbent on a lower court to stay proceedings.

“But, you people were ready to go on at the tribunal. You should show the same eagerness before this court,” she declared.

But lawyers said the “attitude of the court clearly suggests that the motion for stay of proceedings is a fait accompli”.

“Giving the respondent barely 24 hours to file the counter affidavits was unusual, unprecedented,” a government investigator said.