There was a rowdy session Thursday at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) as counsels representing the Senate President, Bukola Saraki who is standing trial walked out on the tribunal.
Saraki’s counsel walked out on the tribunal in protest of the CCT decision to continue with the case in line with the appellate court ruling of last week.
Earlier at the hearing, the Saraki’s counsel had informed the tribunal of a notice of appeal at the Supreme Court on the appeal court’s ruling and asked the CCT to stay proceedings pending the determination of the appeal at the Supreme Court.
Counsel to the complainant (Federal Government of Nigeria), Rotimi Jacobs In opposition to this, reminded the tribunal about the decision of the appelate court, which legitimised the constitution of the tribunal as it is binding on all parties, meaning that the CCT can go on with the prosecution of Saraki.
Citing Section 287(2) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Jacobs argued that the the decision of the Court of Appeal shall be enforced by all authorities, and therefore, the application by the defendant (Saraki) was uncnstitutional and should be refused.
After standing down the matter for less than an hour, Justice Umar Danladi, Chairman of the CCT decided to continue to entertain the matter since the Supreme Court had not assigned a date for the matter to be heard, assuring that the rights of all parties are guaranteed and protected.
This decision upset the legal counsel to Saraki and Mahmoud Magaji, Ahmed Raji and Saka Isau, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) withdrawing their services and leading other lawyers of the defence out of the premises, while the defendant (Saraki) sat in the witness box looking aghast.
Magaji in protest to the ruling by the CCT chairman argued that such ruling amounts to “judicial rascality”.
The situation led to a rowdy session with about 45 senators who accompanied the Senate president murmuring, shouting, and creating a very embarrassingly degrading atmosphere within the tribunal, as they were busy shouting down the chairman of the tribunal and the prosecuting counsel.
Justice Umar, chairman of the tribunal however sought from Saraki if he would represent himself or seek the legal services of another lawyer, of which he (Saraki) asked for a month to meet with his lawyers and if need be, get the services of a new set.
“I have found myself in a new terrain, where first my counsels abandoned the matter, I have to ask them why they did what they did, and if they are coming back, I need to know”, Saraki said.
However, the tribunal in its ruling, granted a week grace for the defendant to put its legal team in order as the matter was adjourned to November 19, 2015.
Justice Umar described the actions of the defendant’s lawyers as “a disrespect” to the institution.
While the Senators who accompanied Saraki continued with their unruly behaviours, they were seen rising even before the chairman of the tribunal rose, threatening to deal with the prosecuting counsel as some of them were clearly seen muttering; “come outside here and we will deal with you”.
Rotimi Jacobs, prosecuting counsel also noted that the action of the Senators was tantamount to contempt of court and a disrespect to the judicial institution as their actions were meant to intimidate the tribunal,