The Federal Government has opposed a fresh application by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, seeking the disqualification of the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar, from further presiding over his trial on charges of false and anticipatory asset declaration.
Saraki, through his lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), filed his fresh application on June 13, 2016, accused Umar of making a remark showing his bias against him (Saraki) during the proceedings on June 7, 2016, while warning the defence against delay tactics.
Umar reportedly made the statement that was picked up by Saraki while warning the defence that their delay tactics would not “reduce the consequences the defendant will meet in this tribunal at the end of the trial.”
Saraki, in his fresh application, alleged that Umar’s statement would prejudice the outcome of the trial.
But the prosecution stated in its counter-affidavit that the statement credited to Umar during the June 7, 2016 proceedings and which Saraki held on to as the basis for seeking Umar’s withdrawal from the trial, was quoted out of context.
The counter-affidavit stated in part, “That as a counsel appearing with the lead counsel in this case, I know as a fact that if the Chairman of this honourable tribunal disqualifies himself, based on this application, the honourable tribunal would have taken over the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal in deciding the appeal.
“That I am aware that the Chairman of this honourable tribunal on the said June 7, 2016 stated clearly that his mind is open to do justice to this matter and that he has no prejudice against any of the parties.
“That the statement quoted in the affidavit in support, allegedly made by the chairman of the honourable tribunal was quoted out of context without referring to the statement made by the chairman to the effect that his mind was open to do justice to this matter and that he has no prejudice against any of the parties.
“That since the charge was filed on September 17, 2015, the defendant has employed all forms of delay tactics to ensure that this matter is not expeditiously heard and to frustrate the prosecution of this case.”
The counter-affidavit was deposed to by a lawyer in the law firm of the lead prosecuting counsel Rotimi Jacobs’ law firm, Mr. Henry Ejiga.
Ejiga stated that the statement credited to Umar was not supported by the record of proceedings which the defendant also failed to attach to his motion.
The tribunal chairman later fixed June 21 for the hearing of the application, after Saraki’s lawyer asked for time to respond to the prosecution’s counter-affidavit.