…Assumes jurisdiction to try LG Chair for cultism
Indications have emerged that former state governors who were let off the hook on account of jurisdiction and Section 3 of the Conduct Bureau (CCT)/Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCB) Act 1989 may be re-tried as the Code of Conduct Tribunal today declared the section as being in contravention of the 1999 Constitution.
The Tribunal made the declaration in a ruling on a motion on notice brought by Emil Lemke Inyang, Chairman of Biase Local Government of Cross River State who was charged for allegedly belonging to a cult group, National Association of Buccaneers, “which membership is incompatible with functions and dignity of his office.”
His lawyers had contended that Section 3 of the CCB/CCT Act mandated the CCB to officially inform Inyang of his offense and should he admit guilt in writing, should be left off the hook but in a situation where he denied the allegation in writing, the CCB should then refer him to CCT for prosecution.
The motion also sought to discredit the suit by insisting that Inyang was not fully briefed on his offences before he was charged.
He was therefore asking the Tribunal to strike out the case on the grounds that it was speculative and defective and that condition precedent for the Tribunal to exercise jurisdiction was not fulfilled and so asked that the case be dismissed.
Delivering the ruling however, Justice Robert Isaac Ewa Odu (rtd) in company of the Chairman Justice Danladi Yakubu Umar and Barrister Atedze W. Aguadza observed a contradiction between Section 3 of the CCB/CCT Act and the 1999 Constitution and wondered whether the section was not included in error.
Admitting that it was based on the section that former governor of Lagos State Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and some other former governors were discharged over corruption cases brought against him at the Tribunal, Justice Odu said the attention of the Tribunal was then not drawn to the provisions of the Constitution, which is the ground norm.
According to him, it was in realisation of the error in the Act that the drafters of the Constitution deliberately corrected the anomaly and removed the stipulation that an accused must first be notified of his offence and be made to formally admit or deny such in writing.
“What purpose will it serve if the accused was invited and he admitted his offence and the Chairman of the Bureau claps for him and serves him tea and ask him to go home? That certainly will not be the intendment of the writers of the Act”, he contended.
“This provision is an absurdity and hence its omission from the Constitution. The CCB is not bound to invite any suspect to its office to either admit or deny. No condition precedent is set for CC to refer cases to the CCT”, he further declared while throwing away the motion and assuming jurisdiction on the case.
Immediately after this ruling, the Tribunal registrar then read the charges to Inyang who pleaded not guilty.
Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Umar then adjourned the case to November 7 for hearing.