For the second time running, the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Danladi Umar, has threatened to throw out counsel to Senate President, Ajibola Oluyede (SAN), for being unruly.
The counsel to Senate President Bukola Saraki on Wednesday in application asking Umar to disqualify himself from the trial was in the chairman’s opinion “confrontational and untamed manner.
“I don’t want to repeat what I did to you last week. If you continue this way, I will do it again,” Umar said.
It would be recalled that last week, the CCT boss had ordered security to throw out Oluyede for talking back at him.
Arguing the application, Oluyede had asked the CCT chairman to withdraw from the case on the grounds that he was being influenced by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
According Oluyede, the CCT chairman who recently was given a bill of not being corrupt by the EFCC could not act independently in the trial of his client.
“The reason why we are here is that the EFCC is prosecuting the defendant before tribunal. The EFCC is holding a sword of Damocles over the Honourable Justice Umar.
“The presence of Umar on the panel removes the guarantee that the tribunal will act independently or impartially. I urge the tribunal to grant the relief sought.”
However, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), counsel to the federal government, argued that the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and not the EFCC was prosecuting Saraki for alleged false declaration of assets.
“Your lordship is not under any trial. Your lordship has not been convicted. The defendant here is still performing his duty as senate president, and he is now saying that a judge who has not been charged should withdraw from trial.
“Assuming is the EFCC that filed this charge, is there any evidence of an ongoing investigation against the tribunal? Investigation has been concluded since March 2015.
“This application is only to harass and intimidate the tribunal. This is not an EFCC case.
“There is a series of harassment; they are harassing the tribunal and the prosecution. An attempt was made to amend the law setting up the tribunal just because an individual is on trial. And they even invited the chairman of the tribunal saying they are doing oversight function,” Jacobs argued.
On April 21, Umar had thrown away the application by Saraki asking him to withdraw from the trial.
In the application by the senate president asking Umar to disqualify himself from the case, Saraki argued that he was biased.
The application, which was filed on April 20 at the CCT, read in part: “An order disqualifying/recusing the Honourable Justice Danladi Umar (Chairman of this tribunal) from sitting on the panel of this tribunal for hearing and determination of the charges filed in these proceedings for the reason that his continued presence on the said panel of this tribunal offends the provisions of section 36 (1) of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria which prescribes that ‘In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.
“A likelihood of bias by the tribunal against the appellant… undermines and withdraws from the tribunal, the jurisdiction which it is normally endowed….”
After listening to the counsel, the CCT judge adjourned the case to Thursday for ruling on the application.