CCB’s Refusal To Disclose Asset Declarations Of Presidents, Govs Illogical – Falana

Femi Falana (File Photo)
Femi Falana (File Photo)

 

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has condemned the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) over its refusal to grant a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on the ground that asset declaration form is private information.

Falana described the ground as illogical.

He said this in a keynote address titled ‘Involvement of Nigerian People in the Fight Against Corruption’ and delivered at Stakeholders Dialogue on Corruption in Nigeria organised by Action Aid Nigeria, in Kano.

According to Falana, “the Federal Government has also failed to show commitment to the fight against corruption by encouraging secrecy with respect to asset declaration by public officers. A few days ago, the CCB turned down the request made by SERAP for the release of copies of the declaration forms of former state governors and Presidents on the grounds that the declaration forms are private documents.”

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Falana said it is illogical to claim that the asset declaration forms submitted by the erstwhile public officers are private documents. He added that accordingly, the rejection of the request by SERAP is a contravention of section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 and article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

“It is hoped that the CCB will review its position and allow citizens to access the information in the declaration forms submitted to it by all public officers in view of the new policy of the Buhari administration to enforce effective asset declaration by public office holders,” he added.

“It is an undeniable fact that the progressive withdrawal of subsidies from social services by the State which is a key component of the IMF/World Bank sponsored Structural Adjustment Programme has led to mass poverty in the land.

“Through the privatisation of public enterprises and assets including banks and other financial institutions the economy was taken over completely by foreign and local interest groups. Thus, the privatization of public companies, commercialization of social services, have increased poverty and income inequality in society.

“From the reports compiled by the federal ministry of justice and federal ministry of finance as well as the anti-graft agencies the federal government has recovered not less than N1 trillion from treasury looters and through the whistleblowing policy of the Buhari administration.

“It is suggested that the sum of N1 billion be set aside for the establishment of a factory in each of the 774 local governments in the country while the balance should be allocated to the police to secure the country.

“Having managed the Petroleum Trust Fund under the Sani Abacha junta President Buhari should have no difficulty in investing the recovered loot in addressing the crises of insecurity and unemployment. After all, the sum of $321 million from the Abacha loot is being distributed to the poor as dictated by Switzerland that illegally warehoused the loot for almost two decades, Falana paper read in part.

“The role of the civil society in ensuring the effective fight against corruption and the implementation of the above recommendations cannot be over-stressed. In fact, both the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption clearly articulate important roles for civil society in the fight against corruption.

“A good example of the role civil society can play is that currently being played by SERAP, a Nigerian based human rights, and anti-corruption NGO. But as corruption in Nigeria has assumed a dangerous dimension due to the anti-peoples economic programme of the government CSOs must link up with the people in combating the menace of corruption.

“We have shown that since the imposition of the Structural Adjustment Programme in the 1980s the country has continued to witness increasing poverty and underdevelopment in spite of the many laws that have been enacted against corruption. To reverse the dangerous trend the government should mobilize the people to create wealth and abolish poverty.

“Henceforth, the anti-graft agencies aided by CSOs should form an alliance with progressive political parties, trade unions, women and youth organizations with a view to fighting together for a society where the welfare and security of the majority of the people will be the primary purpose of government.

“To achieve the objective, popular forces should be prepared to challenge neo-liberal ideologues who are promoting poverty through the domination of the economy by market forces.”

Alleged False Asset Declaration: Saraki’s Trial Resumes At CCB

Saraki, trial, Ccode of conduct tribunalA witness from the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Mr Samuel Madojemu, has admitted to not having a formal report of investigation on the verification exercise carried out on the assets of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

This was made know at the resumed trial of Senator Saraki over alleged false declaration of assets, on Wednesday.

Mr Madojemu read out the list of assets declared by Senator Saraki and those of his wife and children when he held office as Kwara state governor and upon his assumption of office as a senator.

He told the tribunal, led by Mr Danladi Umar, that the Senate President’s case was the only one ever investigated without a written report because the exercise was carried out by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He therefore admitted that his own role and that of the CCB, were limited to the review of the EFCC report and that the CCB only compared the asset forms of Saraki with the findings of the commission.

The witness added that no formal report was written because the directive to probe the assets, was received orally.

Lawyers to the Senate leader, however, insisted that the witness lacked the ground to testify against him having failed to participate in the investigation exercise.

The prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, on the other hand dismisses the objection of the defence team, saying that he had more witnesses to prove his case.

The tribunal subsequently adjourned proceedings to April 5, for re-examination of the witness by the prosecution.

Centenary City: House Seeks Prosecution Of Anyim, Bala Mohammed

Centenary City Project: House Seeks Prosecution Of Pius Anyim, Bala MohammedThe House of Representatives has called for the prosecution of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Pius Anyim, for his role in the Centenary City Project.

The lawmakers also sought for the prosecution of former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed.

The call was one of the recommendations adopted by the House on Thursday, after considering the report of its Committee which investigated the matter.

The lawmakers also approved the recommendation that the Code of Conduct Bureau, as well as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission should investigate the roles played by both former public officers in the project.

Saraki Loses Appeal Against CCT Trial

Saraki, CCT,The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has again failed in his attempt to stop his trial by the Code Of Conduct Tribunal.

Delivering judgment on the appeal filed by the Senate President, Justice Abdul Aboki affirmed that the CCT has jurisdiction to try the case.

The five-man panel of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, agreed that the tribunal erred in discharging former Lagos Governor, Senator Bola Tinubu but the tribunal has since corrected itself in subsequent judgement.

On the claim that a quorum was not formed before he was charged, the court resolved the issue against the Senate President.

Justice Aboki resolved that three men at the Code of Conduct Bureau can adjudicate any matter.

All the four other members of the panel unanimously agreed with the lead judgment delivered by Justice Aboki‎.

Meanwhile, the trial of the Senate President continues at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, where he is facing a 16-count charge of corruption and false assets declaration.

The CCT had earlier struck out an application filed by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, against the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar.

Senator Saraki had accused Mr Umar of bias and asked him to disqualify himself from hearing the case on alleged abuse of office and non-declaration of asset levelled against the Senate President.

With Thursday’s ruling, the CCT will resume Saraki’s trial on November 7 and 8.

The trial had been stalled due to the annual court vacation and the deployment of technicalities by the defence counsels.

CCB Clearance Ends Controversy Over Buratai’s Dubai Asset – Osuagwu

Nigerian ArmyThe whistle-blower, who challenged the ownership of property in Dubai by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, says the controversy has been put to rest.

This followed an announcement by the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Mr Sam Saba, on September 29 that General Buratai had been verified and cleared by the commission after a right activist, Mr Ugochukwu Osuagwu, approached the commission on the issue.

Mr Osuagwu said that besides the announcement that the Army Chief had been cleared, the Code of Conduct Bureau also gave copies of the said asset declaration form to him.

He noted that the declaration was an indication that Buratai had not violated any law, stating that he would desist from calling for a proper investigation of the Army Chief.

In early 2016, Nigerians woke up to the news that General Buratai had property in Dubai which he did not declare as a serving public officer.

House Amends Code Of Conduct Bureau And Tribunal Act

House-of-Representatives-NigeriaNigeria’s House of Representatives has considered and passed an amendment to the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.

The Act makes it mandatory for the bureau to ensure that any one who is deemed to have breached the provision of the Act is given the chance to explain before such a case is referred to the Tribunal.

The amendment to Section 3 of the Act now includes a paragraph (e) which says “upon complaint(s) of any breach or where it appears to the Bureau that there is a breach of the provision or this Act, the person concerned shall be given particulars of such non-compliance or breaches to explain before any reference to the Tribunal”.

Section 4 (2) was also amended to substitute the word “President” with “the National Assembly” as the one to appoint members of staff of the Bureau and exercise disciplinary control over them.

about a month ago, the Senate suspended the planned amendments to the CCB, Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Act due to public outcry of Civil Society Organisations.

At the time, the Senate passed it for second reading, the presiding officer, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu had stated that the amendment had nothing to do with the ongoing trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki at the CCT.

Saraki’s Trial: Defence Counsel Drills Prosecution Witness, Michael Wetkas

Saraki, Michael WetkasThe trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki over alleged false declaration of assets at the CCT continued on Tuesday with the cross examination of prosecution witness, Mr Michael Wetkas, by the defence.

This was after the tribunal Chairman ruled in favour of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki that the defence have a right to conduct their defence in the manner it suits them and the tribunal is bound to allow the defence use every legal instrument at its disposal to conduct its case.

The prosecutor urged the tribunal to compel the defence to stick to only one counsel rather than “change counsels every day” to make the trial tidy.

However, counsel to Dr. Saraki, Mr Paul Usoro says that argument of the prosecutor was absurd in law because the defence, having announced all of his counsels is entitled to use any of them for the justice of the case.

The tribunal asked the prosecution to be patient and allow the defence defend its client to its best but noted that the tribunal can draw their attention if they go out of the bounds of the law.

During cross-examination, one of the defence counsels, Mr Paul Ilokoro, asked the witness if he had ever seen the original copy of the exhibits he presented before the tribunal.

The witness, who led the EFCC team of investigators who worked on Mr. Saraki’s assets declaration forms, Mr Michael Wetkas said that the documents were with the CCB and that he was only furnished with other copies.

“At a point we were asked to work with officials of the CCB.  In the course of our investigations, there is no how you will investigate economic and financial crime that assets will not be involved.

“So normally in the course of our investigations, we asked persons under investigation to fill assets declaration forms provided by the Commission itself.

Mr Micheal Wetkas then added that this is so almost in all cases and that in the instant case, the asset declaration form he tendered was the one provided by the Code of Conduct Bureau.

When asked if he had seen the original copy of the asset declaring form he tendered, he said he had always worked with the certified true copy given to him by the investigating team members from CCB.

However, when asked again if he had ever sighted the original, he said that he had seen it during investigation and when asked why the original were furnished to team and not the court, he said that he did not demand for it and he only used it for sighting.

He further said that the certified true copy serves the same purpose as the original.

When asked if in the course of investigation whether there were several original or just one, he said that the normal thing is to have just one original of a document.

The defence counsel then recalled a claim made by the prosecution witness that Dr. Saraki had 1.5 billion Naira in his account shortly before he became Kwara State Governor in 2003 and demanded for a recalculation of the figures as stated in Appendix 7A of Exhibit 1.

But the prosecution counsel objected that the recalculation was unnecessary since Mr Wetkas was the same person who presented those figures in the first place.

The defence counsel, Mr. Ilokoro, responded, “My lord, as you can see, the documents were dumped for the press in order to scandalise my client. It is obvious they have no coherent figures to prove false assets declaration.”

When probed further, Mr Wetkas also confirmed to the defence counsel that the stamp used to confirm the completion of assets verification documents after their investigation did not carry a date.

When asked if his evidence was intended for the tribunal to see the defendant as someone who was not a man of means, Mr Wetkas answered in the negative.

 

Alleged False Declaration Of Assets: Saraki’s Trial Continues

Saraki, Senate President, CCTThe trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Abubakar Saraki, over alleged false assets declaration has continued at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

The Chairman of the tribunal and the other members arrived while the Senate President in company of some lawmakers and well-wishers were already seated.

At the commencement of trial, the prosecutor urged the tribunal to compel the defence to stick to only one counsel rather than “change counsels every day” to make the trial tidy.

However, one of the counsels to Dr. Saraki, Mr Paul Ilokoro said that the argument of the prosecutor was absurd in law because the defence, having announced all of his counsels, is entitled to use any of them for the justice of the case.

He concluded by saying that the request of the prosecutor was only to waste the time of the court but the prosecutor insisted that only one person can cross-examine the witness.

However, reading Section 36 Subsection 6 of the constitution, the counsel to Saraki pointed out that the law enables the defendant to defend himself with legal practitioners.

In his ruling, the Chairman of the tribunal said that the position of the Defence was right.

Justice Umar ruled that the defence has a right to conduct its defence in the manner it suits it and the tribunal is bound to allow the defence use every legal instrument at its disposal to conduct its case.

However, the tribunal can draw their attention if they go out of the bounds of the law.

He asked the prosecution to be patient and allow the defence defend its client to its best.

At the last hearing on Thursday April 28, the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar had ruled and accepted an amended 16-count charge filed by the prosecution against the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.

This prompted counsel to the Senate President to take a fresh plea on the charges being raised. Dr. Bukola Saraki then pleaded not guilty to the amended 16-count charges of alleged false declaration of asset filed against him.

The former charge was filed on October 18, 2015 and Prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, asked the court to accept the new charges, dated April 27, 2016 as the case against the Senate President.

The Senate President was first charged in September 2015 for alleged false and anticipatory declaration of assets.

Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, had earlier in the day also dismissed the application filed by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki seeking Umar’s withdrawal from his trial, holding that the application lacked merit.

Saraki Pleads Not Guilty To Amended Charges

Senate PresidentThe senate president, doctor Bukola saraki has pleaded not guilty to an Amended sixteen count charges of alleged false declaration of asset filed against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The amended charges, which are coming more than 7 months after the commencement of his trial, replaces the thirteen count charge initially preferred against him.

Three of the charges among other things, accused the Senate President of failing to declare ownership of an American Express card account.

The two charges read, “That you on or about September 16, 2013 within the jurisdiction of this honorable tribunal did make a false declaration in the asset declaration form for public officers which you filled and submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau upon assumption of office as the Governor of kwara State in the year 2003 by your failure to declare your leasehold interest in number 42, Remi Fani-kayode street, Ikeja, Lagos, which you acquired through your company, Skyview Properties Limited from first Finance Trust Limited on December 12, 1996 and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(1)(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. CAP. C15, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004 and as incorporated under paragraph 11(1) (2), I fifth schedule to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and punishable under section 23(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act as incorporated under paragraph 18, Part I of the fifth schedule to the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”, it read

“That you between June 2011 and October 2013, within the jurisdiction of this honorable tribunal, did receive monthly salaries or emoluments as governor of kwara state and at the same time, from the federal government as a senator of the federal republic of Nigeria and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 6(a) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. CAP. C15, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004 and as incorporated under paragraph 2(a), Part I of the, fifth schedule to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and punishable under section 23(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and tribunal act as incorporated under paragraph 18, Part I of the fifth schedule to the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”

The Code of Conduct Tribunal, ruled and accepted an amended the 16-count charge filed by the prosecution against the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki despite objection from the defence counsel.

This came up just after the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, dismissed the application filed by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki seeking Umar’s withdrawal from his trial, holding that the application lacks absolute merit.

Cross examination of prosecution witness, Mr Micheal Wetkas, by the defence counsel was about to begin when the prosecution asked to withdraw the former charge against the Senate President and requested the leave of the court to enable him read the amended charges to the Senate President.

The former charge was filed on October 18, 2015 and Mr Jacobs asked the court to accept the new charges, dated April 27, 2016 as the case against the Senate President.

According to him, the fresh charges are necessitated by the evidence to be given and the facts in them.

Responding to the application, counsel to Dr. Saraki, Mr Paul Usoro, said that relying on Section 216, sub section 1 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the business of amending a charge is at the discretion of the tribunal.

“The point we make is that the discretion can only be exercised based on facts before the tribunal and there is no such application before the tribunal.

“So it should be filed and we can reply to it, particularly since we are cross examining based on each of the counts and we should also be given an opportunity to react,” he said.

He further said that an amendment is not a matter of force, but at the discretion of the court.

He argued further that the position of the prosecution that the fresh charges are necessitated by facts raised in its witness’ testimony needs to be proven as it cannot just be announced from bar or orally.

He noted that he was not opposed to the withdrawal of the first charges filed but has “a problem with the one he is applying to replace it with”.

“For us to be able to say yes or no we need the particulars that show the facts.”

The prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, in his response, said that the only issue to determine is whether Section 216 requires a formal application before the prosecution can amend its charges.

He submitted that there is no provision for that requirement but instead it says whenever the prosecution wants to amend at any time before judgment, he should do so and draw the attention of the court to it but ensure that it is read out to the understanding of the accused.

This he said is according to Section 163 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Ruling, the Chairman of the tribunal agreed with the prosecution that there is no condition precedent for the charge to be amended.

He held that it is automatic and straightforward, therefore the prosecution needs not give any reason provided it is done before judgment.

CCT Accepts Amended 16 Count Charge Against Saraki

SarakiThe Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar has ruled and accepted an amended 16 count charge filed by the prosecution against the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.

This prompted counsel to the Senate President to take a fresh plea on the charges being raised.

The trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, for alleged  false asset declaration, continued on Thursday with the prosecution asking to replace the former charge against the Senate President with new charges.

This came up just after the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, dismissed the application filed by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki seeking Umar’s withdrawal from his trial, holding that the application lacks absolute merit.

Cross examination of prosecution witness, Mr Micheal Wetkas, by the defence counsel was about to begin when the prosecution asked to withdraw the former charge against the Senate President and requested the leave of the court to enable him read the amended charges to the Senate President.

The former charge was filed on October 18, 2015 and Mr Jacobs asked the court to accept the new charges, dated April 27, 2016 as the case against the Senate President.

According to him, the fresh charges are necessitated by the evidence to be given and the facts in them.

Responding to the application, counsel to Dr. Saraki, Mr Paul Usoro, said that relying on Section 216, sub section 1 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the business of amending a charge is at the discretion of the tribunal.

“The point we make is that the discretion can only be exercised based on facts before the tribunal and there is no such application before the tribunal.

“So it should be filed and we can reply to it, particularly since we are cross examining based on each of the counts and we should also be given an opportunity to react,” he said.

He further said that an amendment is not a matter of force, but at the discretion of the court.

He argued further that the position of the prosecution that the fresh charges are necessitated by facts raised in its witness’ testimony needs to be proven as it cannot just be announced from bar or orally.

He noted that he was not opposed to the withdrawal of the first charges filed but has “a problem with the one he is applying to replace it with”.

“For us to be able to say yes or no we need the particulars that show the facts.”

The prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, in his response, said that the only issue to determine is whether Section 216 requires a formal application before the prosecution can amend its charges.

He submitted that there is no provision for that requirement but instead it says whenever the prosecution wants to amend at any time before judgment, he should do so and draw the attention of the court to it but ensure that it is read out to the understanding of the accused.

This he said is according to Section 163 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Ruling, the Chairman of the tribunal agreed with the prosecution that there is no condition precedent for the charge to be amended.

He held that it is automatic and straightforward, therefore the prosecution needs not give any reason provided it is done before judgment.

In the meantime, the cross examination of prosecution witness, Mr Micheal Wetkas, has begun and according to the defence counsel that will be on count one.

Saraki’s Trial: CCT Chairman Dismisses Application Seeking His Disqualification

CCT ChairmanThe Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal has dismissed the application filed by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki seeking his withdrawal from Saraki’s trial at the tribunal, holding that the application lacks merit.

In his ruling, Justice Danladi Umar said that the Attorney-General of the Federation has no powers to investigate any person. It is only the security and law enforcement agencies that have that power and it is only when they have concluded their investigation that the Attorney-General can prosecute.

Justice Umar said that in the instant case, the EFCC which carried out the investigation of the Chairman of the CCT has come out to say that it has no case against the Chairman.

The letter referred to by the defence was an interim report which was made to the Attorney-General in 2014 and that a further correspondence by the anti-graft agency indicated clearly that the Chairman has been cleared because there was no sufficient evidence against him.

He also said that the EFCC is not answerable to the Attorney-General in the cause of performing its constitutional duty as the position by the defence that only the Attorney-General can clear the CCT Chairman is misconceived.

He explained that only the EFCC which investigated the Chairman can clear him, and this they have done.

Finally, he added that it is to be noted that the letter of June 2015 supersedes that of March 5, 2014.

Therefore, the “tribunal holds that the application lacks absolute merit and is hereby dismissed in its entirety”.

The Application

The Chairman of the Tribunal, Mr Danladi Umar, had fixed Thursday, April 28 for ruling on the Senate President’s application and then continuation of the cross examination.

This was after the counsel to the Senate President, Mr Raphael Oluyede, on Wednesday told the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr Danladi Umar, that he lacked moral justification to preside over his client’s trial on an allegation of false declaration of asset.

He requested that he should disqualify himself from his trial.

SarakiMr Oluyede, during the hearing, insisted that Mr Danladi was still under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the same agency that allegedly filed the criminal charges against him.

He alleged that it was obvious that the said investigation was used as a bait by the EFCC to get Mr Danladi to do its bidding.

He, therefore, asked the Chairman to excuse himself from the case, in the interest of justice and fair hearing.

Objecting the motion, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, asked the Tribunal to dismiss the motion, claiming it lacked merit.

He accused the Senate President of harassment, citing a bill before the Senate attempting to amend the Act that established the CCT and the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Mr Jacobs also described the issues raised in the motion as matters of sentiment which had no place in law.

He also accused the Senate President and his team of predicating the motion on the wrong assumption that the EFCC was the one trying the Senate President when it was the Federal Government.

To this end, he asked that the motion be discountenanced.

Saraki Asks Tribunal Chairman To Disqualify Self From His Trial

Bukola-Saraki-Senate-President-in-NigeriaNigeria’s Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday told the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr Danladi Umar, that he lacked moral justification to preside over his trial on an allegation of false declaration of asset.

He requested that he should disqualify himself from his trial.

The counsel to the Senate President, Mr Raphael Oluyede, during the hearing insisted that Mr Danladi was still under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the same agency that allegedly filed the criminal charges against him

He alleged that it was obvious that the said investigation was used as a bait by the EFCC to get Mr Danladi to do its bidding.

He, therefore, asked the chairman to excuse himself from the case, in the interest of justice and fair hearing.

In a motion argued by Mr Oluyede, the Senate President claimed that since the EFCC was largely responsible for the trial and also responsible for investigation of the 10 million Naira bribery allegations against the chairman, there was no way the chairman would be objective and impartial in the prosecution.

“Since the sword of Damascus is dangling in the direction of the chairman of the Tribunal, he may be tempted to dance to the tune of the anti-graft agency,” he told the Tribunal.

Matters Of Sentiment

Dr Saraki’s counsel further insisted that available facts had proved that the EFCC had a case against the Chairman of the Tribunal, as buttressed in its letter to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation on March 5, 2015 and also on April 20, 2016.

Reading the letter, he said was written by the EFCC, in which it had cleared the chairman, he pointed out that the EFCC accused the chairman of meeting a witness in his chambers but said that the evidence was not sufficient enough to prosecute him at the moment, but also stated that investigation was ongoing.

He told the Tribunal that the letter was written on March 15, insisting that the claim that he was under investigation made it obvious that the chairman was not fit to try the case.

“Their claims that they have not subjected his call log to scientific investigation shows he still has a case to answer.

“There cannot be justice. If a prosecutor is prosecuting a case before a man he is still investigating,” he stressed.

According to him, the letter is a prove that the chairman has a case to answer.

he also presented another letter, which was a response by the prosecution and dated April 20, 2016 more than seven months after the trial of his client had begun.

The letter on one hand said the chairman admitted to asking for bribe and actually met with an accused person in his office.

“For the EFCC to make such a statement it is obvious that it is used as a bait to make the chairman do its bidding.”

This he said “offends the provisions of section 36 of the Nigerian Constitution which gives his client right to fair hearing” and submitted that the continuous presence of the chairman on the panel removed the guarantee that the Tribunal would act independently.

He, therefore, asked the Chairman of the Tribunal to withdraw honourably from further participating in the Senate President’s trial in the interest of justice.

Objecting the motion, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, asked the Tribunal to dismiss the motion, claiming it lacked merit.

He accused the Senate President of harassment, citing a bill before the Senate attempting to amend the Act that established the CCT and the Code of Conduct Bureau.

“The bill before the Senate is designed to whittle down the powers of the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, as a result of the Senate President’s trial,” he stated.

Mr Jacobs also describe the issues raised in the motion as matters of sentiment which had no place in law.

He also accused the Senate President and his team of predicating the motion on the wrong assumption that the EFCC was the one trying the Senate President when it was the Federal Government to this end he asked that the motion be discountenanced.

After listening to both parties, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Mr Danladi Umar, said he would adjourn to April 28 for ruling on the application and then continuation of the cross examination.

He also hinted the Tribunal that discussions were ongoing with major television stations such as Channels Ait and NTA to carry the proceedings live to show that the Tribunal had nothing to hide.

While the counsel to the EFCC told reporters that the application was frivolous and a waste of the time of the Tribunal, the counsel to the Senate President described the statement by the Chairman of the Tribunal as ‘corroborating his client’s stance that he was bias’.