The Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Dan Ladi Umar, has dismissed the application of the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, seeking his disqualification from his (Saraki) ongoing trial at the Tribunal, for lack of merit.
Saraki, on Wednesday filed an application to disqualify Umar, from continuing to preside over his trial.
Ajibola Oluyede, a counsel to Saraki, who is being tried for alleged false and anticipatory assets declaration, filed the application shortly after the trial resumed yesterday. He said the tribunal chairman still had a serious corruption case against him with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and premised his application on Section 36(1) of the constitution, which addressed the issue of biases and the rules of natural justice.
Oluyede had unsuccessfully moved a similar application last week, which resulted in a heated exchange between him and Umar. After reading his motion, Oluyede called the attention of the court to a letter written to the Attorney-General by the EFCC chairman in February 2015, which was part of his exhibits against Umar.
Oluyede read out paragraph four of the letter: “There are indications that the tribunal chairman might have demanded and collected money from the complainant through his said personal assistant. “However, efforts made to recover the telephone handset used by Justice Umar proved abortive, as he claimed that he had lost the telephone in 2012. “This has made it impossible to subject it to independent scientific analysis, with a view to corroborating the allegation.
In the same vein, the complainant could also not make available his telephone set for analysis on the grounds that he had lost it.
“Justice Umar also admitted that he met privately with the complainant in his chamber at the tribunal. This is a most unethical and highly suspicious conduct on his part.”
Justice Umar had initially declined to entertain the motion, but prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, urged him to admit the application so that it can be argued.
But Umar, on Thursday, held that though it was within the powers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate him, his trial could not have been ordered by the Attorney General since the anti-graft agency has found no case against him.
He therefore said it was a matter of undue intimidation on the part of the defence to have come up with its application.
“The tribunal holds that the application of counsel to the accused lacks merit and is hereby dismissed in its entirety,” the CCT chairman said.