ABUJA – The legal team of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Thursday withdrew their representation in the corruption trial of Mr. Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The lawyers left the tribunal on Thursday after the special court refused to suspend the trial to allow the Supreme Court rule on the matter.
Saraki is facing a 13-count charge bordering on alleged corruption and false declaration of assets.
He was arraigned on September 18, but pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted bail.
On Wednesday, Mr. Saraki appealed to the Supreme Court to stop the trial after the Court of Appeal in Abuja refused his request last week.
At the resumed hearing Thursday, the Senate President’s lawyers argued that the case be stood down for the Supreme Court to take a decision.
Two of his counsel, Ahmed Magaji and Ahmed Raji, walked out of the Code of Conduct Tribunal after chairman of the tribunal, Umar Danladi, decided to continue hearing.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”70560″]
The lawyers, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria, described the decision of Mr. Umar as “judicial rascality” never seen in their years of legal practice.
“It is a strange situation; it is not done anywhere that a matter is pending before a higher court, as the one in the Supreme Court and proceedings will continue in a smaller court,” Mr. Magaji said.
While Mr. Magaji left without a direct request for permission to withdraw his appearance, Mr. Raji requested to be allowed to stand down, saying he would not allow himself to be forced into making any explanations at the Supreme Court, because of his involvement in the court’s decision to continue sitting.
The prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacob, had earlier argued that based on Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the application for stay of proceedings, could not be entertained.
Mr. Raji argued that the Section 36 referred to an application for stay of proceeding before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, not the Supreme Court in this matter.
The chairman of the tribunal, Mr. Danladi, ruled that the hearing continue after an hour recess.
When the tribunal resumed, Mr. Danladi ruled that the proceedings should continue.
As the prosecution counsel attempted to usher in his witness, the defence counsels, Messrs Magaji and Raji, left the court.
Saraki, who had then been ushered into the dock, was asked if he would continue proceedings without his lawyers or request more time to help him get lawyers.
His request for a month to put himself together and possibly get a new lawyer was not granted, as the prosecution argued that the time was too long.
The prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi, then requested 11 days.
The presiding judge asked Saraki if that time was favourable. He responded saying if it pleased the judge for the hearing to continue after 11 days, it should be on a Thursday or Friday.
The matter was then adjourned till Thursday, November 19. (Premium Times)