A news story by an online portal, Sahara Reporters, that Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court Lagos, nearly granted an injunction to stop the trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal without notice to defendants in the suit, has been described as a falsehood and malicious publication.
In a statement issued by Saraki’s counsel, Prince Ajibola Oluyede, who is also the founding principal of TRLPLAW, Prince Ajibola Oluyede, the action was meant to preserve Senator Saraki’s fundamental rights to a fair hearing, to be presumed innocent until proved guilty and to liberty.
According to Oluyede, his decision to file the application was to seek remedies connected with the politically-motivated arraignment of Senator Saraki before the CCT and an expose further plan to utilize the Respondents in the suit to draw up charges against Senator Saraki and arraign him before a Lagos State High Court.
The respondents in the suit comprised the Attorney General of the Federation, the EFCC, the ICPC, the Inspector General of Police, the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal, their chairmen and a member of the CCT.
Oluyede said, “Contrary to the falsehood in that report, the action was filed on the 30th of September 2015 with Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1507/2015 and was not assigned until the 19th of October 2015 to Justice Buba.
“At no point did the judge indicate any interest in granting/inclination to grant an order to ‘stop Saraki’s trial before the CCT’ as alleged by the false story in Sahara Reporters online portal.”
However, in its report on the proceeding of the hearing, Sahara Reporters claimed that there was a legal plot to grant an injunction ordering the Code of Conduct Tribunal to stop Senator Saraki’s trial, but for the ‘intervention’ of an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) lawyer.
According to Oluyede, the assignment of the case to Justice Buba, two weeks after the processes were filed, was as a result of a protest letter he wrote to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, dated the 14th of October 2015, where he complained about the delay in assigning the case to a judge.
“When the matter was first called up in open court, on Thursday 22nd October, 2015, for the hearing of an ex-parte application seeking, inter alia, an order for leave to serve the processes outside Lagos, the Judge observed that the respondents were all outside Lagos and wondered whether his court was the appropriate forum for hearing of the matter. As the day was fast spent at the time, he therefore adjourned till Friday 23rd of October, 2015 in order that counsel may address him on the question whether he had jurisdiction to hear the application.”
The legal practitioner explained further that, “I was personally in court to move the application on Thursday 22nd October and whilst I was responding to the judge’s question, a junior EFCC Lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo who was in court for a different case attempted to stand up to make some remarks to the judge, which I disallowed.
“However, when the matter was called again in open court, on Friday 23rd of October, this same lawyer announced his appearance for the EFCC and having been granted audience by the Judge made some remarks. The judge had already listened to submissions from Applicant’s counsel about whether he had jurisdiction to hear the matter but had not ruled.
“Therefore, when Mr Oyedepo again intervened, the court only proceeded to grant the prayer of the Applicant for leave to serve the Originating Processes on the Respondents (including EFCC) so that they might be put on notice and heard on the question of the court’s jurisdiction to hear the action, before the court would deliver a ruling on that issue.”
While defending the integrity of the judiciary, Oluyede added that, “Indeed, Justice Buba is reputed to be fearless, just, hardworking and very knowledgeable of the law. He is the sort of Judge that cannot be intimidated by the bully tactics employed by some EFCC counsel.”