The Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki has filed a fresh application seeking to disqualify the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Danladi Umar, from presiding over his trial, even as the Tribunal has adjourned till Thursday, April 28, to rule on the application.
Mr. Saraki is currently facing charges of alleged false and anticipatory declaration of assets.
Ajibola Oluyede, a counsel to the senate president, had filed the application shortly after the trial resumed on Wednesday, which led to a disagreement from the defence and prosecution teams, as well as Mr. Umar, over the “moral standing” of the tribunal chairman to credibly proceed with the trial.
The application submitted by Oluyede, stated that 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.
“Your lordship should not be sitting on this case because of the negative impression it would give to reasonable onlookers,” Mr. Oluyede said.
He further called the attention of the court to a letter written to a former Attorney-General, Bello Adoke, by a former EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, in February 2015, which was part of the exhibits he obtained against Mr. Umar.
Mr. 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.
Mr. Umar adjourned ruling on the application until Thursday (today), but added that he will continue cross-examination after the ruling, a statement that the defence team played down as a “mere slip of tongue”.