Mild Drama At CCT Over Accusations Of Chairman’s Alleged Bias

SarakiThere was mild drama at the Code of Conduct Tribunal during the trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki on Thursday as the Chairman of the CCT, Justice Danladi Umar ordered the arrest of the defence counsel for alleged contempt of court.

At the continuation of hearing, defense lawyer, Mr Raphael Oluyede wanted the chairman to attend to his application of alleged bias by Justice Umar, which makes him not qualified to continue with the case.

He also raised an allegation of a corruption case against the judge pending with the EFCC.

But the prosecution lawyer, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, told the tribunal that Mr Oluyede should not be allowed to file the suit because he has not been representing the accused on the motion.

Chairman of the Tribunal ruled Oluyede out of order because he was not a party in the suit and a member of the defence team.

According to the Chairman, the counsel was only announced as part of the team on Wednesday and cannot file the motion because he was not part of the team and is also not ripe for hearing because the application is based on falsehood.

The Chairman added that he filed the application without the consent of the defendant or his lead counsel as reported by the prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs.

Counsel to Dr. Bukola Saraki, Mr Oluyede got in an argument with the Chairman of the tribunal and was arrested by the Police on the orders of the Chairman of the tribunal.

But the prosecuting counsel pleaded with the Chairman not to effect the arrest which allowed the trial to continue.

Order was later restored and the proceedings continued. One of the defence counsels, Mr Paul Usoro continued cross examination of the prosecution’s witness, Michael Wekpas.

Mr Wekpas claimed the strength of the investigation team is based on the statement of account which allegedly shows clear narration of transactions in respect of sums transferred abroad.

While continuing his narration, another witness, Usman Imam also admitted like the first witness that he was not a member of the team that interviewed the defendant but was briefed by the team leader Mr Musa Sunday.

He added that his own team made some discoveries before reports were harmonized.

Meanwhile, the prosecution has filed an amendment charge against the Senate President while the lead counsel to the accused is requesting that hearing be adjourned for one week to allow them study the charges.

Justice Umar granted the request and adjourned the case till next Wednesday April 27.

Fundamental Human Rights: Saraki Refiles Application

Bukola-Saraki-Appeals-CCT-trialLawyers to the Senate President have refiled a Fundamental Human Rights Application on behalf of Dr. Bukola Saraki at the Federal High Court in Abuja after a High Court in Lagos State struck out the case.

The Counsel to Dr. Saraki, Mr Ajibola Oluyede, said that the case was refiled on Friday.

The Senate President had sued the Attorney General of the Federation, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, ICPC, the Inspector General of Police and the Code of Conduct Bureau.

In the suit, Senator Saraki asked the court to declare that his arraignment and trial before the Code on Conduct Tribunal falls short of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right and Section 36 of the Nigerian Constitution which guarantees his right to fair hearing and personal liberty.

He also asked the court to nullify the charges of false assets declaration pending against him.

The Senate President also wanted the court to restrain the respondents from inviting, arresting or prosecuting him on the basis of any allegation arising from his tenure as Governor of Kwara State from 2003 – 2011.

Earlier on Friday, the High Court said that the issues could  not be resolved in Lagos and struck out the suit for lack of jurisdiction.

Lawyers Withdraw From CCT Trial

On Thursday, all lawyers representing the Senate President on charges leveled against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) withdrew from the case.

Their withdrawal followed the ruling of the Code of Conduct Tribunal to continue trial, a decision, which the lawyers described as “judicial rascality”.

The Tribunal had based its ruling on the strength of Section 305 of the administration of Criminal Justice Act which says that ‘a trial can be concluded and ruling reserved until all questions about the trial are answered’.

Dr. Saraki then asked for a month to reconstitute his defence but lawyer to the Federal Government kicked against it saying that it was another way for the Senate President to “get what he wants”.

The Tribunal, however, ruled that it would give the Senate President one week to reconstitute his legal team.

The CCT has adjourned till November 19.

Supreme Court Appeal

The decision of the High Court in Lagos on Friday came three days after Dr Saraki filed an appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which on October 30 affirmed the jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct Tribunal to try him on 13 counts of false assets declaration.

Senator Saraki also filed an application for stay of proceedings urging the Supreme Court to halt the proceedings of the Code of conduct Tribunal to try him for the alleged offences pending when his appeal would be determined.