24 March 2016

Nigeria: Saraki Asks Chief Judge to Prevail On Justice Kafarati to Deliver Judgment

Photo: Daily Trust
Bukola Saraki

Abuja — The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has rejected the decision of Justice Abdulkadir Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja refusing to deliver his judgment in the suit filed by him (Saraki) to enforce his fundamental rights.

The judge had last Tuesday withheld his judgement in the case and announced his withdrawal on the grounds that reports by some online media had alleged that he had been bribed by the senate president.

Saraki, in a protest letter dated March 22, 2016 by his lawyer, Prince Ajibola Oluyede, to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, noted that although he sympathised with the judge, the interest of justice would only be served if the judgement was delivered.

Oluyede, while speaking with journalists Wednesday after the submission of the letter to the CJ, accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of being behind the publications, which he said, were intended to intimidate the judge.

"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 Its 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 contented 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 read: "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 judgement and returning the matter to your Lordship for reassignment.

"In our view, the abdication by Justice Kafarati no 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 judgement in this action because of fear of ephemera public opinion.

"We write to seek your lordship's most urgent intervention to prevail on Justice Kafarati to have his judgement 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 judgement 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.

Oluyede said his client was planning to proceed against the known face behind by initiating criminal contempt against him for frustrating the process of justice.

He said the immediate concern of his client was to ensure that justice was done in the case, with the judge being allowed to deliver his judgement, no matter in whose favour.

Oluyede dared the EFCC to come out with any fact that Justice Kafarati was compromised, if it had any, after the judge must have delivered his judgement.

He accused the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) of not doing enough to protect lawyers and judges against what he described as the gestapo attitude of the EFCC.

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