Asset Declaration: Saraki’s lawyers withdraw from case at Tribunal

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Abuja  –  Mr Mahmud Magaji (SAN) and Ahmed Raji (SAN) on Thursday withdrew their services as lawyers representing the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

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The lawyers openly announced their withdrawal following their perceived dissatisfaction with the ruling of the tribunal on their application for stay of proceedings.

They said that they were displeased with the decision of the tribunal refusing their application to stay proceedings in the trial pending the determination of an appeal they filed before the Supreme Court.

Saraki, who is standing trial in the tribunal on allegations of false asset declaration, had appealed to the Supreme Court seeking to stop the trial.

His lawyers had applied to the tribunal to stay proceedings in the trial pending the decision of the apex court.

In its ruling, the tribunal, presided over by Justice Danladi Umar upheld the argument of the prosecution that staying proceedings would hamper speedy trial.

Umar held that if the tribunal continued with the trial while the appeal is going on before the apex court, the respondent would suffer no injury.

Besides, the judge declared that the Court of Appeal had dismissed the same application which they appealed before the apex court.

Reacting to the decision of the tribunal before withdrawing their representation, the lawyers described the ruling as “travesty of justice.’’
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Magaji said, “this is judicial rascality and I cannot be part of this process. I therefore withdraw my representation as the respondent’s counsel.’’

Speaking in same vein, Raji said, “we have pending application before the Supreme Court.

“I believe that in the hierarchy of court, we have the tail and the head and the tail cannot dictate for the head as we have seen here.

“I also withdraw my services as lawyer to the respondent.’’

The lawyers subsequently staged a walk out after their submissions.

At this stage, more than 45 senators who accompanied Saraki to the tribunal raised their voices in support of the action of the lawyers, disrupting the proceedings.

Responding, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacob (SAN) said the lawyers were entitled to their decision to withdraw from the case.

Jacob, however, noted that the behaviour of the Senators amounted to contempt of the tribunal and an attempt to intimidate the judge.

Justice Umar, berated the lawyers for their attitude, saying they acted in “gross disrespect to the tribunal’’.

Umar subsequently asked Saraki if he could defend himself or would hire the services of another lawyer to continue with the trial.

In response Saraki said, “My Lord, as a law abiding citizen of this country, I submitted myself to the court.

“However, what happened this morning, I find myself in a new terrain because I am a medical doctor and not a lawyer capable of defending myself.

“I will need one month either to plead with my lawyers to come back or to secure the services of another lawyer.’’

The prosecution counsel, however, opposed Saraki’s request arguing that granting him one month to search for lawyer would further delay the trial.

In a short ruling, Justice Umar granted one week for the respondent to get his lawyer and adjourned the trial till Nov. 19. (NAN)


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