Being a lawyer entails seeing things entirely differently from everyone every now and then. We end up even more castigated than the villains themselves in the court of public opinion; the court of no laws.
While I fully appreciate the need to fight corruption and punish corrupt individuals as a deterrent, non-legal persons found it difficult to understand why I thought it would be hard for the Code of Conduct Tribunal to dismiss the no case submission by Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in his matter before it. The two most important witnesses-one from the EFCC and another from the Code of Conduct Bureau; fumbled in their testimonies. While the EFCC witness admitted to the filing of a charge before the preparation of a witness report, the one from the CCB was caught lying about the contents of his affidavit.
As it turns out,the CCT dismissed the 18 count charge though with 3 of those counts returned to it by the Court of Appeal for trial. Those 3 counts were returned on the basis that there were contradictions on how money used to purchase a house in Ikoyi was raised. While his bank says it was gotten through loans, Saraki said it was from the sale of sugar and rice. It doesn’t sound water tight and if it fails like the bulk of the prosecution’s case has, the Supreme court of public opinion would uphold the earlier judgement that CCT chairman, Danladi Umar, isn’t clean and that if the authorities dig deep, they would find how Saraki bribed him. The law is an ass? Well, maybe.
The 1st defendant in the celebrated alleged husband-killer case, Maryam Sanda, was recently granted bail by Justice Halilu of the FCT high court on the 5th application. The ruling has come under much criticism with many describing it as dubious, unjust and a product of a justice system poised to serve the whims of the rich.
I was particularly intrigued by the take of the editor-in-chief of Desert Herald newspapers, Tukur Mamu. Mr Mamu, after strongly disagreeing with the decision of the court in an article, felt the need to write an additional piece after receiving a call from a retired president of the appeal court who was himself disappointed at Justice Halilu’s ruling. It is either of 2 things – that Mamu was lying or that the president of the appeal court was a quack. In as much as Mamu shares in the disappointment of most, it is preposterous to attack Justice Halilu’s decision on the grounds he did. That they think a judge should enquire from the prison authorities and the police prosecuting her (yes, a former president of the court of appeal actually thinks the police the right party to prosecute homicide at a high court) before granting bail is ridiculous. It is the responsibility of the prosecution, having studied the application of the defendant, to counter the grounds she has raised just like it is the responsibility of the defence to attach her medical records to her application and not that of the court like he claims.In this case,she presented a medical report emanating from the National hospital, Abuja.
Contrary to what Mamu and his likes may want us to believe,it is the duty of the prosecution to prove to the court that there are medical facilities that can cater for her ill-health and not for the court to do so on its behalf.
In almost all cases, bail in murder cases are on the ground of ill-health and such ill-health have been of a nature that require an accused person to seek better medical attention than the authorities can provide. Maryam Sanda’s case isn’t any different.
How convenient a time to fall critically ill some people may think but studies also show that if there is any health condition likely to be triggered off by incarceration asides a mental one, it is a heart condition. Erring on the side of caution is the wisdom behind the court’s decision.
Maryam Sanda isn’t only suffering from a heart condition, she is also pregnant. That is an extraordinary circumstance and it is in the best interest of justice to allow her take care of herself.
Again, the lawyers are on trial in the court of no laws.
Umar Sa’ad Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano.