The Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Mr Danladi Umar, was on Thursday, barely prevented from sending Rapheal Ajibola Oluyede, one of the lawyers to the Senate President Bukola Saraki to prison for alleged contempt.
During the day’s proceedings, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who is also Senator Buruji Kashamu’s lawyer, had filed a fresh application asking Umar to disqualify himself from hearing the suit of false assets declaration against Saraki on the basis of an alleged ongoing investigation by the EFCC.
According to the lawyer, Mr. Umar is likely to be biased against his client since he is being probed by the anti-graft agency which is also part of prosecuting agencies against Saraki.
Oluyede, who has not been among the over 80 lawyers defending Saraki this morning rose and told the Tribunal that he has an application to move before the commencement of the proceedings for the day.
But in his response, the Chairman of the Tribunal said he was not aware of any application.
The prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, rose up to say he was aware of the application as he was served with it yesterday.
“This application, I only received it this morning, it is not ripe for hearing unless the lead counsel say something about it. I know that the application was based on false premise, EFCC has already cleared you on 5 March, 2015.
“This motion was filed by a mere busybody practitioner. It was not accepted. The business of this day is for the continuation of the cross examination,” Jacobs said.
Umar interjected Jacobs asking: “Is he not the one that sued me that I was undergoing trial by EFCC?”
Jacobs answered: “That was why I asked your Lordship to be patient with me. The business of the day is for cross examination, the application is not ripe for hearing.”
In a reaction to this, Umar asked the Muhammed Adelodun (SAN) led defence team how they allowed someone who is not a member of their team to file an application.
“How can you allow such a rubbish thing to happen?” the Chairman asked.
At this point, Oluyede stood up and grabbed the microphone, with obvious intentions to justify himself, but he was cut short by Mr. Umar: “Sit down, I am not talking to you,” Umar said.
“How can you allow such a thing to happen when you know that motion, he filed it as his own. The motion is thrown out, it is of no consequence. We are here for justice, why should we allow this kind of thing that will derail justice. How can you allow such thing to happen, it is shameful,” the obviously angry Umar asked Adelodun.
But Oluyede who refused to be restrained, stood up and grabbed the microphone, thus eliciting another order of sit down! Sit down! Sit down! From the now obviously very infuriated Umar.
Oluyede, however, refused to yield to the instruction, telling the CCT Chairman that a lot of things is wrong with the way he has been handling the trial and he will not be allowed to continue.
Umar threatened that he may commit the lawyer to prison for contempt if he refused to abide by the order to sit down.
“You will commit me for contempt for doing my duties?” Oluyede asked.
“Where is the Police here? Take him away” Umar directed.
As a Policeman was making his way towards the lawyer, his colleagues appealed to him to sit down.
In an attempt to calm the frayed nerves of Umar, Jacobs said, “My Lord, I am sorry. It is very good for the counsel to express his mind. The business of the day is cross examination. That motion is not even yet ripe for hearing. We handle him at the Federal High Court. We will do so here.”