A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Mr. Paul Erokoro yesterday in Abuja told the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, Justice Danladi Umar, that the Senate president standing trial before him on false assets declaration could not get justice from him because of his biased and prejudicial comments in the trial.
Erokoro, while moving an application filed by Saraki, asked the CCT chairman to disqualify himself from further participating in the trial because of his biased disposition.
The CCT chairman had on June 7 threatened Saraki that the delayed tactics being employed by his lawyers would not reduce the consequences he would face at the end of the trial.
In his submissions on the motion on notice, Erokoro claimed that the comment by the chairman was prejudicial to Saraki, whom he said could no longer get fair trial from the tribunal in line with the provision of section 36 of the 1999 constitution.
The counsel told the tribunal that neither did the chairman, who was personally served with the motion on notice informing him of the prejudicial statement made in the open court on June 7, deny the statement nor the prosecution too.
Erokoro further submitted that by implication, the CCT chairman and the prosecution had implicitly admitted making the statement and as such, the chairman should disqualify himself in the interest of justice and fair trial.
He further submitted that the independence and the impartiality of the chairman as envisaged in section 36 of the constitution could no longer be guaranteed and that a good reason for the CCT chairman to disqualify himself from the trial had already been established, and that he would not be able to balance the scale of justice.
“Once a judge by word or action shows that he cannot hold the scale of justice, he should disqualify himself,” he said.
When asked on what happens to the tribunal should the chairman disqualify himself, Erokoro said that there was a statutory provision for the establishment of the tribunal with a full complement of three members and that the appointing authority could do the needful by appointing more.
Saraki had in the motion specifically demanded the removal of the chairman from the panel of the tribunal that will prosecute him, because of the open threat of Umar to unleash the full weight of the law on him at the end of his trial.
Saraki claimed that the threat made by Umar in the open court was a clear indication that the tribunal had made up its mind to convict him at all cost, irrespective of the evidences at the trial.
In a fresh motion on notice brought pursuant to section 36 of the 1999 constitution, Saraki insisted that the tribunal chairman was in a hurry to convict him without giving him a fair hearing or fair opportunity to defend himself.
In the motion filed by his lead counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), Saraki stated that the threat by the CCT chairman was biased, and therefore could not accord him a fair trial.
The motion predicated on eight grounds indicated that the threat of consequences issued by Umar had caused Saraki to lose confidence in the impartiality of the chairman and therefore was no longer confident that he would get justice from the tribunal if the chairman continued to participate in the hearing and the determination of the case against him.
However, the prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) in his vehement opposition to the motion said that the application was frivolous, an abuse of court process and a deliberate attempt to delay the trial.
Apparently justifying the alleged prejudicial comment of the CCT chairman, Rotimi claimed that it was true that the trial was being delayed by the defence and that the chairman only warned Saraki on the consequences of the trial and not the consequences of the charge.
He also said that Saraki had filed similar application before asking for the same prayers, and that since appeal on the earlier ones were still pending before the appellate court, the tribunal should resist the temptation to do the statutory job of the Appeal Court.
Meanwhile, ruling on the application has been fixed for July 13, 2016.

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  • Ambrose A.A.

    The comment made by the Chairman was deliberately made. he is a learned man, and he knows that , the statement is prejudicial. The Chairman is preparing for the case to be throw away in the appeal court if Saraki is found guilty. base on this statement by him.