Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), on Tuesday, reserved its decision whether or not to disqualify CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar from further participation in the trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki for alleged false assets declaration till July 13, 2016.
Interestingly, while Saraki stoutly insisted CCT should disqualify self, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs told the tribunal “Saraki application is frivolous.
Saraki in the motion had accused Umar of bias following a statement the CCT chairman made during sitting on June 7 that “delay tactics will not reduce the consequences that defendant will meet in this tribunal at the end of the trial.”
Arguing the motion on Tuesday, Saraki, through one of his counsels, Mr. Paul Erokoro (SAN), asked Mr. Danladi Umar to disqualify himself because of his biased and prejudicial comments in the trial.
The defense counsel claimed that Saraki can no longer get fair trial from the Tribunal in line with the provision of section 36 of the 1999 constitution.
He said that neither Umar nor the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs has denied the statement. The application is that “the CCT chairman and the prosecution have implicitly admitted making the statement and as such, the chairman should disqualify himself in the interest of justice and fair trial.”
He further argued that the independence and the impartiality of the chairman as envisaged in section 36 of the constitution can no longer be guaranteed, adding that Umar’s remark was a proof that he will not be able to balance the scale of justice.
“Once a Judge by word or action show that he cannot hold the scale of justice, he should disqualify himself” he said.
When asked by the tribunal that has been sitting only two members, what happens to the tribunal should the chairman disqualify himself, Erokoro said that there is a statutory provisions for the establishment of the tribunal with a full complement of three members. He advised the appointing authority to do the needful by appointing one more member.
The prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacob (SAN), in his vehement opposition to the motion said that the application was frivolous, an abuse of court process and a deliberate attempt to delay the trial.
Apparently justifying the CCT chairman comment, Rotimi claimed that it was true that the trial was being delayed by the defence and that the chairman only warned Saraki on the consequences of the trial and not the consequences of the charge.
He also said that Saraki had filed similar applications before asking for the same prayers and that since appeal on similar issues is still pending before the appellate court, the tribunal should resist the temptation to do the statutory job on the Appeal Court.