In a bid to save his position as the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, yesterday, begged the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, sitting in Abuja, to reconsider its decision to conduct day-to-day hearing on the 13-count criminal charge the Federal Government entered against him. Saraki in court Saraki, through his consortium of lawyers, led by former Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, prayed the tribunal to at least allow him to conduct legislative duties three days in a week.
The Justice Danladi Umar-led tribunal had at the resumed sitting on the case, yesterday, said it would henceforth try the defendant on daily basis. Justice Umar said the decision of the tribunal was based on provisions of Sections 376 and 315 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015. “Let me state it here for both the prosecution and the defence that the trial of the defendant shall proceed on a day-to-day basis till the conclusion of this matter and it will begin from 10am to 6pm,” Justice Umar held.
The panel, however, said it would on each day of the trial, allow a break period at 1pm and 4pm. Remarkably, the day-to-day trial order came on the heels of an intensified bid by the Senate to amend the Code of Conduct Bureau/Tribunal Act, a move that has continued to elicit negative reactions from different quarters. Saraki begs tribunal to reconsider stance Meanwhile, perturbed by what the application of the order could portend for his office, Saraki, subsequently urged the tribunal to reconsider its stance. “My lord, we pray that you consider the position of the defendant as the Senate President. The Senate sits on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We beg you to allow the defendant and his colleagues, who accompany him to this court, to, at least, conduct their legislative duties,” Agabi begged.
His submission infuriated the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, who contended that the fact that Saraki was on trial was not a ground for his colleagues to abandon their legislative duties. He said: “My lord, this is very bad and should be condemned. We are not trying the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is the defendant. It is a shame and national embarrassment for such excuse to be given. “It is the defendant that is on trial before this court, his colleagues absolutely have no business to be here.”
His position was also re-echoed by the CCT panel which said it could not shelve its decision to allow Saraki sit as Senate President. “The Senate should sit. The only thing here is the personality of the defendant who happened to be the Senate President. The Senate should continue to sit,” Justice Umar held. Saraki, who appeared tensed all through the verbal exchange, was accompanied to the tribunal, yesterday, by about 16 senators.