The Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja on Friday issued a bench warrant for arrest of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, for refusing to attend the tribunal’s proceedings. The tribunal, led by Justice Danladi Umar, ordered the Inspector General of Police (IGP) or other relevant security agencies to arrest Saraki and produce him in court on Monday.
The tribunal gave the orders while ruling on arguments by prosecution lawyer, Muslim Hassan (of the Federal Ministry of Justice) and defence lawyer, Mahmud Magaji (SAN).
The tribunal also refused an assurance by one of his lawyers, Joseph Daudu (SAN), that he will produce Saraki before the tribunal on the next adjourned date, insisting that it was inappropriate for the tribunal to reverse itself having ordered Saraki’s arrest.
Hassan had noted at the commencement of proceedings that Saraki was absent in court despite being served with summons in relation to a 13-count charge filed against him for allegedly violating the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal (CCB/T) Act on assets’ declaration.
Hassan consequently urged the tribunal to issue a bench warrant for arraignment of Saraki before the tribunal. In the alternative, he urged the tribunal to stand the case down for some time to allow Saraki’s law prevail on him to appear.
Magaji countered Hassan’s position and urged the court to discountenance his (Hassan’s) application on the ground that he lacks the locus standi to file the charge and that the tribunal has no jurisdiction to hear the case.
Citing Section 24(2) of the CCB/T Act, Magaji argued that it was only the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) or any official of his office he authorized that could legitimately initiate such criminal proceedings.
He contended that since the AGF is not in place, no official of the office of the AGF could legitimately initiate proceedings against anyone.
Magaji also argued that his client’s presence was unnecessary at this stage because he was currently challenging the competence of the charge and the tribunal’s jurisdiction to hear the case.
He equally drew the tribunal’s attention to the case his client filed before the Federal High Court, Abuja, and the order it made asking the respondents, including the CCT to explain why they should not be restrained from proceeding with the case.