The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), sitting in Abuja has dismissed all charges against former governor of Lagos state, Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu, over allegations of operating several foreign accounts while serving as state Governor for eight years.
Justice Danladi Yakubu Umar, Chairman of the Tribunal, ruled that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against the accused as no evidence of proof or affidavit was attached or issued to the court, adding that in the circumstance, the Tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case and therefore quashed the charges.
Part of the charges against Tinubu, the National leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), was that he maintained 10 foreign bank accounts in the name of his wife and children as well as misinformed the Code of Conduct Bureau between 1999 and 2000 while he was governor by refusing to declare the information in his Code of Conduct forms.
The CCT had earlier in agreement with the submission of the accused, dismissed the first and second charges for abuse of court proceedings because Tinubu had explained that he was not given sufficient chance to clarify issues raised in his forms at the Code of Conduct Bureau before he was brought to the Tribunal.
Recall that Tinubu had in one of the sittings, refused to enter the dock after claiming that the Tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to try him just as his Counsel, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) enunciated that the former governor was being tried by a tribunal, unknown to the Nigerian Constitution.
Olanipekun had also described the amended charges filed by Alex Iziyon (SAN), the prosecuting counsel, as abuse of court process since the initial one-count charge was still in existence at the time Tinubu was being tried on three counts. He argued that the mandatory conditions precedent for referral of complaints by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to the tribunal and the subsequent exercise of jurisdiction by the tribunal have not been complied with.
While quashing all the charges against Tinubu for abuse of court process, the Tribunal chairman confirmed that the accused was not given the opportunity to explain issues relating from his form with the Code of Conduct Bureau before he was brought to the Tribunal.
The Code of Conduct Tribunal discharged and acquitted Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the grounds that:
1.Contrary to the rules of the Code of Conduct Bureau, the CCB had not afforded Asiwaju Tinubu an opportunity to be confronted with the complaints against him and be allowed to admit or deny before the charges were filed against him. The court noted that the opportunity to admit or deny was given to other Governors and public officers charged with violation of the code of conduct, but was not given to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
2.That the prosecution abused the process of court by not seeking leave of the Tribunal to file two additional counts and that the filing of two sets of charges simultaneously constitutes an abuse of process.
3.The charge did not disclose a prima facie case against the accused person as there was no proof of evidence attached to the charge, and that the charges did not show that the accounts were held by the accused persons, in fact the names were names of other persons.
Consequently, the code of Conduct Tribunal dismissed the charges against him, as the prosecution has violated a condition precedent to preferring the charge.
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I am impressed by this ruling,I never believed we had an independent judiciary.