Justice Abdukadir Abdu-Kafarati of the Federal High Court in Abuja will today give his ruling on a legal effort by embattled Senate President Bukola Saraki to scuttle his trial for corruption before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
Justice Kafarati is scheduled to deliver his judgment on Friday, less than one month after recusing himself from the case.
Mr. Saraki submitted a legal application to the Federal High Court claiming that the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), where he is on trial for corruption and false assets declaration, had violated his fundamental human rights.
Earlier Justice Kafarati had recused himself from the case following an expose by SaharaReporters revealing the judge's reputation for being compromised by wealthy or politically connected clients.
SaharaReporters also revealed that Mr. Saraki’s lawyer on his human rights application, Prince Ajibola Oluyede, has had a long relationship with Justice Kafarati. Several lawyers told SaharaReporters that Mr. Oluyede, who also defended wanted drug baron and Nigerian senator, Buruji Kashamu, was known for compromising Justice Kafarati on numerous legal cases on the judge's docket.
SaharaReporters also revealed that agents of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have discovered no less than N2 billion in Justice Kafarati’s bank accounts. The judge told EFCC operatives that the vast amount of money were proceeds from his farming enterprises.
News of Mr. Saraki’s legal application in the Federal High Court in Abuja caught members of the public by surprise since the substantive matter of the application that the CCT was violating his human rights because the tribunal allegedly has no jurisdiction to try him, was already considered by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. On February 5, 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that the CCT has the competence to try Mr. Saraki for corruption.
The resumption of Mr. Saraki’s trial follows SaharaReporters' revelation that Zakari Mohammed, a member of the Federal House of Representatives from Kwara State, bribed technicians to tamper with the electricity at the CCT courtroom, triggering a power outage that forced the tribunal into a lengthy adjournment. The result was that the tribunal’s proceedings were halted and adjourned until April 18.
The long and unusual interruption enabled Mr. Saraki to get the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to ask Justice Kafarati to deliver a ruling on Senator Saraki's application today.
If Justice Kafarati rules to stop Mr. Saraki's trial, the Federal Government is likely to file an appeal at the Court of Appeal.
Prosecutors worry that the consequent delays and prolongation could extend Mr. Saraki's trial by more than six months.
Mr. Saraki also has a pending case at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division. He is seeking a similar legal relief to stop his trial.