CCT trial: You have no powers to try me – Saraki dares Tribunal judge

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki on Wednesday said the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, Danladi Umar has no right to preside over his ongoing trial.
Saraki is currently standing trial at the tribunal for false declaration of assets.
The Senate President through his counsel, Raphael Oluyede informed the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, of a pending application filed on April 19, 2016, seeking the Chairman of the tribunal, Danladi Umar to disqualify himself from conducting the trials, citing likelihood of bias.

Oluyede alleged that there was a likelihood of bias on the part of Umar who was investigated for corruption to the tune of N10m by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, as was directed by the then Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, adding that the same EFCC is the prosecution in the current matter involving his client who is the Senate President.

He claimed that Umar admitted to the anti-graft agency that he met with an accused person privately in his chambers, thereby raising doubt over his credibility to try this case.

Oluyede contended that the anti-graft agency in various letters alleged to have cleared the CCT Chairman do not completely clear him, saying “this evokes a cloud and we do not know what is behind it. We submit that the continued sitting of Umar on the panel removes the guarantee that the tribunal trying an accused person will act independently or impartially.”

On these grounds, Oluyede urged the tribunal to grant “the relieve sought in this application in the interest of justice.”

But counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs contended that the tribunal Chairman had the right to preside over the matter, stressing that Umar has not being tried in any court or being convicted before. He added that there is no evidence to show that Umar was still being investigated by the anti-graft agency.

He said, “Your Lordship has not being tried, convicted by any court, investigation is investigation.

“Even if he is under investigation, he can still continue with his duty. The defendant in this case despite being charged to court is still carrying out his duty as a senator.”

Jacobs argued that Oluyede was not a counsel on record when he brought up the application before the tribunal.

Citing Section 349(7)Administration of Criminal Justice Act, Jacobs argued that only the lead counsel can represent an accused person from commencement to the end of a trial, adding that a 3-day notice must be given.

He maintained that if the tribunal should consider the application of Saraki, it “means whenever a judge is accused , he should not sit over the matter which is not right.”

Jacobs also stated that EFCC had concluded its investigation on the alleged corruption charge against the tribunal Chairman since 2015, stressing that the anti-graft agency in a letter to the then Attorney General of the Federation dated 24 June 2014 never indicted or recommended that the tribunal Chairman be prosecuted contrary to the argument of Saraki’s counsel.

Jacobs while urging the tribunal to dismissed the application which he claimed is “frivolous” said it’s meant to “harass and disgrace the tribunal Chairman.”

Proceedings is still ongoing.

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