The Presidency said on Sunday that Buhari had no hand in the trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, by the Code of Conduct Tribunal for alleged false asset declaration, that it was purely a judicial process.
President Muhammadu Buhari?s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement, caution against linking the President with the Saraki?s trial, saying Buhari had no hand in the trial.
Shehu said there was no provision in the law for the Code of Conduct Bureau and the CCT to take instructions from any quarters, describing as uninformed the views that the CCT, which he said was equal to any superior court of record, could only act upon external instigation.
?As an independent institution equal to any superior court of record, the tribunal is set up by the Constitution to determine the issue of default, false declaration or forgery in assets declaration. This therefore is purely a judicial process and has nothing to do with the Presidency,? the statement noted.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party had on Saturday accused the Buhari-led government of desperation to remove Saraki as the Senate President.
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, said Buhari was intolerant, particularly over the treatment being meted out to Saraki.
But the Presidency advised anybody not satisfied with the CCT action to go to court.
Shehu statement read in part, ?If anyone has an axe to grind with what they (CCB and CCT) are doing, they should do it in a judicial manner by challenging those actions in a proper court of law. Let them hire a good team of lawyers to prove their innocence. Government has no desire to persecute anybody.
?The President has vowed to respect the rule of law and this is what he is doing by staying out of this matter. He has said times without number that the war against corruption has no sacred cows.
?Even if the President wants to help, there is no way he can do anything. Is he going to ask the judge to stop the trial?
?The President has sworn to an oath to protect the Constitution and will not violate that oath.?
Justice Danladi Umar of the CCT in Abuja had last Friday ordered a bench warrant against Saraki for failing to appear before the tribunal to answer false declaration of assets charges.
Umar had specifically ordered the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, or other security agencies to arrest Saraki and produce him in court on Monday (today) to take plea in the 13-count charge slammed on him by the CCB.
Meanwhile, there were indications on Sunday that the Senate President might still not appear before the CCT on Monday (today) despite the bench warrant issued on him by Justice Umar.
Counsel for Saraki, Mr. Mahmud Magaji (SAN), said he had appealed against the ruling by the tribunal judge.
The lawyer said, ?We have been able to file a notice of appeal as well as stay of execution. When you have a valid notice of appeal and stay of execution, it puts the order of the court so granted in abeyance, unless and until the final determination of that content of that order that is being challenged at the Court of Appeal. That is the position of the law.?
He also confirmed that the notice of appeal and stay of execution had been received by the CCT.
?We filed it at the registry of the Code of Conduct Tribunal in the same court and it has been served on them since Friday; and then we are good to go. They have a copy of it and we have filed an appeal too. The rule is that you cannot file a stay of execution until you file notice of appeal and so we are good to go,? he said.
The Special Adviser (Media) to the Senate President, Yusuph Olaniyonu, also told one of our correspondents on Sunday that Saraki?s legal team would determine what would happen on Monday.
?The legal team of the Senate President and their client will decide what will happen because there are three cases coming up. One at the Federal High Court, one at the Court of Appeal and another at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, I am not in a position to say what will happen,? Olaniyonu said.