In first ever since his trail began at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Senate President Bukola Saraki got a favourable ruling from the chairman, Danladi Umar.
Prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, had complained that the cross examination of Michael Wetkas, a principal witness, had taken much time because the defence team kept changing the lawyers examining the witness.
“The counsel that started cross examination should finish it. The witness cannot be cross-examined by three lawyers. My learned brother should conclude cross-examining the witness,” he argued while requesting the tribunal to make the order.
“You can have several lawyers, but only one of them will address the court. That’s why we have lead counsel. The lead counsel who has started the cross examination is bound to conclude the case.
“It is not an opportunity for six lawyers to cross examine one witness. Why I am raising this, is that we have already spent days on cross-examination. My lord should regulate the proceedings.”
However, Paul Erokoro (SAN), one Saraki’s lawyer who was about to cross examine the principal witness countered that it was not a point in law.
“There is no law which supports my learned friend’s request. Different counsel can cross examine a witness. If one counsel is tired another one can take over.
“The prosecution has also requested that will close our cross-examination today. That is absurd. We are going to take our time and do things properly. We will not be stampeded.
“We are ready to start cross-examination,” Erokoro said.
Ruling on the argument, Umar said there was nothing wrong in Saraki engaging as many lawyers as he wanted, and to choose which one of them would speak for him in court.
“The defence has the right to conduct their defence the way it suits them. What we are here to do is to give fair hearing. Paul Erokoro can now conduct the cross examination.”
Before now, Kanu Agabi (SAN), Saraki’s lead counsel, had the cross examination of the witness, after which Paul Usoro (SAN) took over.