RENOWNED Constitutional Lawyer, Professor Ben Nwabueze has berated President Muhammadu Buhari for alleged inconsistent action in prosecution and trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, saying his integrity is gravely compromised by his role.
Professor Nwabueze made the allegation in his paper entitled: “President Buhari’s integrity is gravely compromised by his role and inconsistent action in the prosecution and trial of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki” which was made available to Nigerian Tribune in Enugu on Tuesday night.
According to the National Leader of the Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA), “In all the circumstances of the case, President Buhari’s role and inconsistent action in the prosecution and trial of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, leave much to be desired, in terms of their compromising impact on his integrity.”
The Igbo Leader went into memory lane, recalling. “The background to the case is a relevant circumstance to be taken into account. Dr Saraki got himself elected by the Senate as its President in place of a person, Alhaji Senator (Dr) Ahmed Lawan, a devout Moslem from Yobe State in the far North, an associate of President Buhari, favoured for the job by the President and his ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).
The statement reads in parts: “Dr Saraki’s election was an affront to both the President and the ruling APC, and the sanction for the affront was to have him (Dr Saraki) removed as Senate President. His prosecution and trial were considered a surer option than going through the Senate for a removal vote.
“It may be recalled that, as part of the ill-motivated design to get him removed as Senate President in order to make way for President Buhari’s favoured aspirant, Dr Saraki was also prosecuted for forgery of the Senate Standing Rules, but the prosecution was later withdrawn when write-ups in the media showed it (i.e. the prosecution) to be a perversion of the rule of law and its processes. It is gratifying that, till date 4/3/2018, the plan to remove Dr Saraki as Senate President has not succeeded; it is gratifying because he is serving, to some extent, as a checkmating force, visible to the public, against President Buhari.
“Accordingly, on 11 September, 2015 a deputy director in the Federal Ministry of Justice filed an application in the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Abuja, asking for the commencement of trial of Dr Bukola Saraki, President of the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria, on a charge of false declaration of assets, with 13 counts – Charge No. CCT/ABJ/01/2015 dated 14 September 2015.
“The application was granted by the Tribunal, sitting with its Chairman, Justice Danladi Umar, and one other member, Mr Agwadza Atedze, which directed that a summons should be issued commanding the accused to appear before it and plead to the charge.
On 17 September, Dr Saraki, through his counsel, filed an application praying the Tribunal to quash and/or strike out the charge against him. After due hearing, the application was dismissed on 18 September 2015. By its ruling dismissing the application, the Tribunal also issued a bench warrant ordering the Inspector-General of Police to arrest and produce the accused in the Tribunal on 21 September 2015.
“Another relevant circumstance is that the CCT is, structurally, within the Executive Branch (under the Ministry of Justice) and therefore subject to the directing authority of the President as Head of the Executive Branch; it is not part of the Judicature: see the definition of judicial office in section 318 of the Constitution.