Saraki’s CCT acquittal: Fed Govt completes record transmission

The office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) yesterday completed the transmission of record of proceedings at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to the Court of Appeal in Abuja in relation to the appeal it filed against the acquittal of Senate President Bukola Saraki by the CCT.

The record, and briefs of argument to be filed by parties, form what the Court of Appeal will consider and review in deciding the appeal filed by the AGF (on behalf of the Federal Government) against the CCT judgment of June 14.

It was learnt yesterday that the transmission of the record started on Wednesday, but was completed yesterday, following which the Appeal Court entered the appeal on its list and allocated a number to it. The number is: CA/A/460/2017.

With the appeal now entered and number allocated, the appellant, by the Rules of the Court of Appeal, is to proceed to file its brief, serve on the respondent, who in turn, will file its response and serve the appellant (the process of briefs exchange), following which the court will fix a date for hearing of the appeal.

In a notice of appeal it filed on June 20, 2017 the appellant stated that the judgment “effectively” overruled previous decisions of the Court of Appeal delivered with respect to Saraki’s trial and other criminal cases.

“The judgment of the lower tribunal is unwarranted, unreasonable and against the weight of evidence,” the notice of appeal read in part.

The notice of appeal was signed by the lead prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), and an Assistant Chief State Counsel in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Pius Akutah.

The appellant described the judgment as “unconstitutional and without jurisdiction.”

It stated that the CCT erred in law by upholding Saraki’s no-case submission “when the onus of proof” was on the Senate President to show “that there was no infraction in the Code of Conduct Forms.

The appellant argued that: “By the provisions of paragraphs 11 (2), (3) and (13) of Part 1, 5th Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), once the Code of Conduct form filled by the public officer is investigated and found to be false or that some assets are beyond the legitimate income of the public officer or that the assets were acquired by means of corrupt practices, the public officer concerned is deemed to have breached the Code of Conduct and it is for him to show to the tribunal that there is no infraction in the form.

“The honourable tribunal wrongly placed the onus of proof on the prosecution contrary to paragraphs 11 (2), (3) and (13) of Part 1, 5th Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) clearly excluded the presumption of innocence on the allegation of infraction of the Code of Conduct by public officers and the Tribunal wrongly applied the presumption of innocence contrary to the constitutional requirement.

“The tribunal’s decision is unconstitutional and without jurisdiction.”

The appellant is praying the appellate court for “an order setting aside the ruling of the Code of Conduct Tribunal delivered on June 14, 2017 upholding the no-case submission raised by the respondent (Saraki) at the close of the prosecution’s case” and “an order calling upon the respondent to enter his defence.”

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