The Senate president, Bukola Saraki, has appealed the ruling of the Code of Conduct Tribunal striking his application to disqualify the tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, from presiding over the case.
A legal representative of Mr. Saraki, Raphael Oluyede, had on April 20 filed an application demanding the disqualification of the CCT chairman for alleged bias and intimidation.
In that application, Mr. Oluyede alleged that Mr. Umar exhibited obvious traits of bias in his previous rulings and that the tribunal chairman was himself under investigation by the EFCC.
In view of this, the lawyer argued, Mr. Umar should therefore not chair the trial.
Counsel to the prosecution, Rotimi Jacobs, submitted that the application should be dismissed, saying it was ironical for Mr. Saraki to still be occupying his seat as Senate president and then ask Mr. Umar to disqualify himself on the grounds of an “unfounded allegation”.
After listening to both counsel, the tribunal chairman dismissed the application, stating that it was within the constitutional powers of the EFCC to investigate him.
Mr. Umar further said he was however not charged because the commission found no reason to institute a charge against him.
He said the commission would have charged him, through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, if there was such case against him.
“The tribunal holds that the application of counsel to the accused lacks merit and is hereby dismissed in its entirety,” Mr. Umar stated.
Mr. Oluyede immediately stepped out of tribunal after Mr. Umar dismissed the application.
However, in the fresh notice of appeal, Mr. Oluyede said Mr. Umar erred in law when he concluded that the application filed on behalf of his client lacked merit.
Mr. Oluyede said in the appeal that it was the submission of his client that Mr. Umar had assumed himself a judge in his own matter and that the ruling so given was an abuse of the office of the AGF.
According to the appeal, it was a complete negation of law to assume that the office of the AGF had no powers of investigation and that the AGF’s office could not instruct the EFCC to prosecute.
Mr. Saraki’s counsel therefore prayed the Court of Appeal to set aside the ruling by the tribunal.
Addressing journalists after the ruling, a chieftain of Arewa Consultative Forum, Joseph Waku, described Mr. Umar’s decision as “a test for Nigeria’s democracy”.
Mr. Waku also described the trial as biased, adding that the attitude of Mr. Umar makes his judgement on the matter predictable.
“In as much as we are against corruption, let the legal process take its due cognizance. It is the last hope of the common man.
“Only God knows where we are going with this kind of biased trial”, Mr. Waku stated.
The trial is adjourned till May 10.
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