The absence of Justice Abdulkadir Abdulkafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja stalled proceedings Wednesday in a suit instituted by Senate President, Bukola Saraki for an order stopping the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) from further trying him.
The judge was to conduct proceedings in the substantive suit Wednesday, having earlier refused Saraki’s application for an interim injunction to stop the trial.
When parties got to court Wednesday, they were told that the judge was not available and that the court would not sit.
The suit was filed in Abuja in November by Saraki’s lawyer, Raphael Oluyede shortly after Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Lagos division of the court struck out the suit on the he lacked the territorial jurisdiction to hear the case.
Justice Buba, in his ruling on November 6, said his court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the case. He added that it ought to have been filed in Abuja where the cause of action took place. The judge noted that Saraki could not prove that his rights were about to be violated in Lagos.
“He has to proffer the reason for the court to hold that his right is about to be violated in Lagos State. The key word is ‘state,” Justice Buba said.
This suit is the third of such suits filed before the Federal High Court by Saraki. Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed, before who the first of such suits was filed, withdrew from the case on September 30 this year and returned the case file to the court’s Chief Judge, Justice Ibrahim Auta.
As is the case in the fresh suit, Saraki had sought to restrain the CCT, the Federal Ministry of Justice and others from proceeding with his trial on the false asset declaration charge against him before the CCT.
Justice Mohammed declined, on September 17, to grant Saraki’s prayer for an order restraining the respondents in the case. Saraki had applied for the order via an ex-parte motion.
Instead, the judge ordered that the respondents be put on notice and show cause on September 21, why the prayer sought by Saraki should not be granted.
On September 21, the judge, after arguments from parties, elected to hear the substantive suit. When parties returned to court on September 30 for the hearing of the main suit , Justice Mohammed announced his decision to withdraw from the case following publications in the social media, which portrayed him compromised.
He said the publication cast doubt in his integrity as a judge hearing the case, which will make any of the party doubt his intention, whichever position he takes in the case.
Justice Mohammed said it was more honourable for him to hand the case file to the chief judge for reassignment.
It is not clear why Saraki filed the fresh suit since the Supreme Court, where his appeal against the CCT’s decision to assume jurisdiction over his trial was still pending, has directed the CCT to suspend proceedings in the trial of Senate President pending the determination of his appeal.
The Supreme Court has fixed judgment in the case for February 5.