Order portends danger to democracy –Senate President

Senate Presi­dent, Dr Bu­kola Saraki has described the order for his arrest by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Fri­day, as not only a deni­gration of the nation’s judicial system but a threat to Nigeria’s de­mocracy.

Responding to the bench warrant issued by the CCT Chairman, the Senate President, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olani­yonu, said he was sur­prised that the tribunal chose to ignore the sub­sisting order of a Federal High Court to issue the order.

The statement reads in part: “While the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, had stated and maintains that he is ready to submit himself to due process of the law on any issue concerning him, he also believes he has an inalienable right to resort to the same judiciary for protection when he feels his fundamental rights are about to be infringed upon.

“It is for this reason that Dr. Saraki, having satis­fied himself that the case filed by the CCB and the manner in which the case was filed show that he will not be given justice, re­sorted to the Federal High Court for the determina­tion of the issues of com­petence of the prosecutor as well as compliance with the procedure stipulated in the Code of Conduct Bu­reau and Tribunal Act.

“The Federal High Court on Thursday, Sep­tember 17, 2015, there­fore, ordered that the all parties in the case should appear before it on Mon­day, September 21, 2015. The implication of this ruling by a Court of com­petent jurisdiction is that the sitting today has been overtaken by event. It is for this reason that Dr. Saraki chose to go about with his normal official schedule.

“Today (Friday) at the Tribunal, Counsel to the Senate President, Mr. M. A. Mahmud (SAN), raised a motion, stating that there is a pending constitutional matter before the Federal High Court to be decided on Monday and that the Tribunal should hold the trial until the constitution­al matter is disposed of.

“We are, however, dis­mayed that the Tribunal chose to disregard the order of the Federal High Court and the motion to suspend hearing till Mon­day when all parties are expected to argue their positions on the constitu­tional matter.

“It is also a surprise to us that despite the appli­cation by the lead counsel to the Senate President that he will produce Dr. Saraki on Monday and the personality of the person involved as the Number three man in the country, the tribunal insisted on is­suing a warrant of arrest as if its intention is simply to embarrass Dr. Saraki. We are not unmindful of the fact that the tribunal is acting under political in­fluence and external pres­sure. This is dangerous to our democracy.

“The conduct of the tri­bunal today left nobody in doubt that it cannot do justice on the matter before it. It is also clear that today’s decision is an abuse of the rule of law which portends danger to our judicial system. The Tribunal has equally set a bad precedent in the way and manner it conducted itself during the proceed­ings.

“We want to emphasise the fact that this is not part of any war against corrup­tion but using state insti­tutions to fight political opponents and seeking to achieve through the back door what some people cannot get through demo­cratic process.

“We need to caution here that in a desper­ate bid to settle political scores and nail imaginary enemies, we should not destroy our democratic institutions and heat the polity for selfish reasons. Let us all learn from his­tory.

“The Senate President is a law abiding citizen who will not do anything to undermine the judi­cial process and author­ity. However, Dr. Saraki will always act to protect his fundamental human rights.”

“The Senate President is a law abiding citizen and his absence from the Tribunal today was based on the legal ad­vice he received from his counsel that the Tribunal will respect the decision of the Federal High Court which is obviously a supe­rior court of records. Also, he relied on a letter from the Chief Justice of Nigeria directed to the Chairman of the Tribunal last May that they are not judicial offi­cers and are inferior to the regularsanni High Court as defined by the law and that they take official oath not judicial oath.

“We will like to state therefore that Dr. Saraki will not do anything to undermine the judicial process and authority but he will always act to pro­tect his fundamental hu­man rights.”

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