CCT Trial: Justice Auta Accedes To Saraki’s Request

 CCT Trial: Justice Auta Accedes To Saraki’s Request

The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta has acceded to the request by Senate President, Bukola Saraki to direct one of the judges serving under him, Justice Abdul Kafarati to deliver judgment in his (Saraki’s) case.
Saraki, who is standing trial for alleged false assets declaration before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) had sued the Chairman of the CCT, Danladi Umar and others involved in his trial, before the Federal High Court.
Saraki is, in the suit filed for him by his lawyer, Ajibola Oluyede, contending that his trial before the CCT, as currently constituted was a violation of his right and that there was no way he could get justice.
It is also Saraki’s contention that, while the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was currently investigating Umar for alleged bribery and at the same time prosecuting him (Saraki) before the tribunal he (Umar) heads, it was impossible for the CCT Chairman to do justice and act independently in his (Saraki’s) case.
Having taken arguments from parties in the case, Justice Kafarati had scheduled judgment for March 22, but when parties arrived court, he changed his mind at the last minutes and informed parties that he was withdrawing from the case and returning the case file to Justice Auta for reassignment to another judge.
Justice Kafarati hinged his decision on publications by some on-line media, which he (the judge) said had cast him in bad light and portrayed him as a compromised judge.
He said no matter in whose favour his judgment went, the losing party will habour the impression that he was influenced.
On March 23, Oluyede wrote Justice Auta, demanding that he prevailed on Justice Kafarati to deliver his withheld judgment, no matter who benefits.
Oluyede said: “It is our argument in the suit that the Code of Conduct Tribunal cannot act independently the way it is currently constituted because we believe It’s Chairman, Danladi Umar, who is currently under investigation by the EFCC, cannot be independent in deciding a case being prosecuted before him by the EFCC.
“We have also contended that the EFCC, by admitting that the investigation of the case against our client was done by a special task force, as against the requirement by the provision in Schedule 3 of the Constitution, has usurped the exclusive duties of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). It is on that basis we argued that our client cannot get justice under the current arrangement and asked the court to quash the charge,” Oluyede said.
Part of the letter he wrote to Justice Auta reads: “Although one cannot but sympathise with the hard-working judges, who are victims of these vicious attacks, nevertheless, we find ourselves in disagreement with his (Justice Kafarati) that the interest of justice would be served by his withholding of his judgment and returning the matter to your Lordship for reassignment.
“In our view, the abdication by Justice Kafarati not only fails to meet the end of justice, it also gives momentum to the growth of blackmail tactics and dishonourable conduct targeted at obstructing the administration of justice.
“It would therefore set a bad precedent if your Lordship accedes to Justice Kafarati’s request to allow him to withhold his prepared judgment in this action because of fear of ephemera public opinion.
“We write to seek your lordship’s most urgent intervention to prevail on honourable Justice Kafarati to have his judgment read, so that the very essence of such an important application under the fundamental rights (enforcement procedure) Rules 2009 may not be completely lost and the entire judicial process brought to avoidable ridicule.
“It is immaterial in whose favour the judgment goes so long as we can, through this resistance, defeat the on-line media terrorism being unleashed against the judicial system.
“If this precedent is set, there will be no end to this, as it would mean that all a litigant that wishes to frustrate the administration of justice for any reason, need to is to sponsor spurious allegations against the judge and that will terminate the proceedings and frustrate the timely delivery of justice,” it said.
It was however learnt yesterday that Justice Auta has acceded to Saraki’s request and directed Justice Kafarati to proceed and deliver his judgement.
The Nation learnt that Justice Auta’s decision was hinged on the fact that none of the parties in the suit complained about the conduct of Justice Kafarati and that the judge can not disqualify himself from further handling the case based on mere allegations made in the media.
Lawyers representing parties in the suit confirmed this development to The Nation Tuesday. Investigation by The Nation also revealed that Justice Kafarati has rescheduled the judgment for this Friday.


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