The Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Justice Danladi Umar, released a bomb at the ongoing trial of the Senate President Bukola Saraki, Tuesday, when he said he was under “serious influence” when former Governor of Lagos State and national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, appeared before the Tribunal in 2011.
At the resumed hearing in the case of fraud and false asset declaration leveled against Saraki, Tuesday, Umar said that during Tinubu’s trial, the Tribunal was under immense pressure, but it “did what it had to do”.
“We must be fair to ourselves, because we will be accountable to Allah,” adding, that did not prevent him from delivering justice in the case.
While directing the the defence counsel to restrict the number of lawyers who would cross-examine the prosecution witness to just one, Umar noted: “I want to say that in case of Bola Tinubu we were under serious influence, but we did what we had to do and discharged him. So we must be fair to ourselves not to delay this trial”.
According to the CCT Chairman: “We must be fair to ourselves so we don’t unduly delay this case. The bench is begging the bar, allowing everyone conduct cross-examination will make our records untidy, please let’s make progress.”
Paul Usoro, counsel to Mr. Saraki, and Michael Wetkas, a defence witness, have been locked in heated argument over alleged discrepancies in the evidences submitted to the Tribunal by Wetkas.
Umar noted that the conduct of the cross-examination had been untidy with the frequent change of lawyers by the defence team, he said: “The records of this Tribunal show that 100 counsels have represented the defendant.
“It is certainly unreasonable that all the 100 counsel of the defence will have a bite at the cherry.
“The head counsel, Kanu Agabi should be the one to conduct the cross examination and when he is unable, he is entitled to nominate other counsels.
“A situation where different lawyers take on the cross examination at different time will not help this proceedings.
“Anything short of this, the Tribunal will not allow,” he declared.
Also speaking, a member of the Tribunal, Williams Atedze said that whichever way the case of Saraki went it would mark a watershed in the history of Nigeria.
“Today, the country is going down. We can’t buy fuel, we can’t tomatoes,” he stated.
Earlier, the defence counsel, Paul Usoro and Wetkas continued from where the defence team stopped last week.
There was disagreement over the property at 15, MacDonald Road, Ikoyi.
Prosecution lead counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, fumed 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 Saraki’s trial.
The cross examination is still ongoing.