Tuesday, 17 May 2016

NEWS:--How Senator Saraki fared at the commencement of CCT

How Senator Saraki fared at
the commencement of CCT


Senator Bukola Saraki on
Tuesday, May 17, returned to the
Code of Conduct Tribunal, where
for quite a while he has been
answering to allegation leveled
against him.
Senator Saraki at one of his appearance at the
CCT.



Danladi Umar, chairman of the Code of Conduct
Tribunal, the special court hearing the false and
anticipatory assets declaration charge against Saraki,
had, last Wednesday, adjourned hearing till today to
give both prosecution and defence teams some time to
“rest”.
At 11:49 am
The defence attorney, Paul Usoro, and Mr
Wetkas continued from where they both left off last
week — the disagreement over the property at 15,
MacDonald Road, Ikoyi.
Irregularities spotted in the description of the
property is the crux of the exchanges. Prosecution
lead, Rotimi Jacobs, is bitter over the argument,
saying the trial cannot last forever.
He said the defence team is deliberately wasting
crucial time as part of its tactics to stall the trial.
Solidarity for the Senate President is unusually
small, only two senators are here, in addition to
Kawu Baraje, an APC chieftain
At 11:42am
The hearing proper continued with the cross-
examination of prosecution witness, Michael
Wetkas.
11:41am
The tribunal argued about a story that has been
circulating online, alleging a division between the
chairman, Mr Umar, and his co-chairman,
Phillip Agwaza.
According to the report, Umar always disagrees
with Agwaza and that is why Agwaza always
keeps quiet. The judges deny the report, scolding the
“layman” news reporter.
Meanwhile, Danladi Umar said that only one
lawyer should cross examine the witness, Michael
Wetkas . He said the lawyer responsible for the
cross examination should be only Kanu Agabi, the
lead counsel to the Senate president.
Umar directed the defence counsel to restrict the
number of lawyers who would cross-examine the
prosecution witness to just one, saying that the
conduct of the cross-examination had been untidy with
the frequent change of lawyers by the defence team.
However, the CCT chairman on Tuesday, May
10, ruled in favor of Saraki, for the first time since
the commencement of the trial when he permitted
more than one lawyer to cross examine Wetkas.
Paul Erokoro, one of the counsel to Saraki
asked that he wanted to cross examine Wetkas, who
is also Economic Financial Crimes Commission
(EFCC) detective but Rotimi Jacobs, the lead
counsel to the federal government objected to his
request.
Saraki during one of his appearances at the CCT
Senator Saraki is facing a 16-count charge of fraud
levelled against him by the Code of Conduct
Bureau (CCB). The bureau had on September
16, 2015 filed a 13-count charge against Saraki for
alleged false and anticipatory declaration of assets,
but increased the number to 15 on April 18 and
added one more charge on April 27.
After the charges were filed, the senate president
was invited to appear before the tribunal on
September 18.
In his reaction, Saraki approached the Federal
High Court on September 17 to block the trial
describing the charges as frivolous and politically
motivated.
On September 18, Saraki failed to appear at the
CCT, causing the tribunal’s chairman, Danladi
Umar, to grant a request by the prosecution that
Mr. Saraki be arrested and forced to appear at the
trial by the next sitting on September 21.
Saraki’s lawyer, Joseph Daudu, had prayed the
court to adjourn till Mr. Saraki’s application was
determined at the Federal High Court, but the
tribunal held that the FHC could not stop the
trial, at the tribunal.
The Senate president further filed an ex-parte
motion containing 12 grounds of appeal at the
Appeal court, asking it to issue an order demanding
the CCT to revoke the bench warrant against him.



He also asked the Appeal Court to compel the
tribunal to stay its proceedings pending the
determination of its applications at the higher court.
On September 21, Saraki again failed to appear
before the tribunal, and explained that he would only
appear after the Court of Appeal ruled on his
applications.
The Court of Appeal presided by Justice Moore
Adumein, on the same day – September 21 –,
dismissed Saraki’s appeal on the grounds that the
court does not grant ex-parte motions.
Saraki was asked by the court to face his trial till
the determination of his application for stay of
proceedings.
On September 22, Saraki pleaded not guilty to
his charges and was granted bail on self-recognition.
The case was then adjourned till October 21.
On that date, the tribunal again adjourned till
November 5 to await the determination of other
aspects of Mr. Saraki’s applications at the Court
of Appeal.
Mr Adumein on October 30, dismissed the
application for stay of proceedings, for lacking in
merit. But a day before the commencement of his
trial at the CCT, Saraki approached the
Supreme Court, with a similar appeal, demanding
that the tribunal be prevented from continuing the
trial.
On October 5, Saraki’s lawyers, Ahmed
Magaji and Ahmed Raji, withdrew their
representation after a failed attempt to compel the
CCT to halt ther trial, pending the determination
of the fresh suit at the Supreme Court.
Senate president Bukola Saraki has also been
named in Panama Papers scandal.
The action of the two lawyers forced the tribunal to
adjourn till November, 19.
However, on November 12, however the Supreme
Court issued an order, restraining the tribunal from
continuing with the trial till the determination of the
application before the Supreme Court.
Subsequently, the tribunal adjourned its sittings
indefinitely. It however issued a statement after the
Supreme Court on February 5 ruled that Mr.
Saraki should return to the tribunal to continue his
trial.

In its statement, the CCT said it would continue
with the trial on March 10, but had to resume
sitting March 11, following a request from the
defence counsel.
On March 11, Saraki appeared at the tribunal
with 65 lawyers led by Kanu Agabi, who took
over from Joseph Daudu.
Mr Agabi, a former Attorney General, tabled
an application before the tribunal chair, Danladi
Umar, asking him to rule on Saraki’s earlier
motion, challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal.
After the defence and prosecution counsel deliberated
on the fresh application, ruling was reserved for
March 18.
On the next adjourned date, Mr Saraki’s lead
counsel again prayed the tribunal to strike out the
charges against his client, describing it as invalid.
Agabi argued that the CCB aired when it failed
to allow Mr. Saraki the privilege of affirming or
denying his charges, before charging him.
The case was then adjourned till March 24 when
the tribunal, again, dismissed Mr. Saraki’s
applications for lacking in merit and ordered the
prosecution to commence its presentation of witnesses
on the next adjourned date.
Subsequently on April 5, prosecution witness,
Michael Wetkas, an operative of the EFCC
began testifying against Saraki.
Mr. Wetkas told the tribunal that Mr. Saraki
received salaries for four years after he stopped being
governor of Kwara State, in 2011.
He stated that Mr. Saraki maintained a foreign
account with the American Express Service,
where he transferred $73, 233: 28 from his
Nigerian account with the Guaranty Trust Bank.
On April 18, Mr. Saraki’s trial was slated to
continue on daily bases, while the Bureau amended
his charges with an additional two counts.
On April 28, Mr. Saraki pleaded not guilty to
the two new counts, as well as an additional count
added to the charge on April 27.
Saraki, whose applications were dismissed on
April 15 and 25, respectively by the Federal
High Court and the Court of Appeal, also
approached the Appeal Court with another
application on April 28 to contest the decision of
the tribunal to dismiss an application by one of his
counsels, Raphael Oluyede, that Mr Umar
should disqualify himself.
The tribunal fixed May 10 for the continuation of
Mr. Saraki’s trial, after dismissing the application
on April, 28.
Owing to the time which Saraki’s case has taken
at the CCT, a group called Integrity Advocacy
Nigeria led by one Tope Ajayi has raised several
issues pertaining the chairman of the Code of
Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar.
The group alleged that Saraki and his defence team
were being stampeded by Justice Umar, noting that
it will seem like they are fighting a lost battle.
Justice Umar had insisted that the trial of Saraki
must proceed on a daily basis in accordance with the
provision of the Administration of Criminal
Justice (ACJA) which stipulates that once a
trial commences, it should proceed daily.
The group however, noted that two other cases have
come up since the Saraki’s trial began. The case
of the former minister of Niger Delta affairs,
Elder Godsday Orubebe and one Rasheed