There was a drama today at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) as about 20 lawyers representing the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki staged a walkout when the court refused their application to stop proceedings pending the decision of the Supreme Court.
Led by Mahmud Magaji, the lawyers filed out of the Tribunal after the chairman, Justice Danladi Umar ruled that the appeal before the Supreme Court does not estopped the continuance of the trial before the tribunal.
In anger, Magaji expressed displeasure over what he described as “judicial rascality” of the Tribunal and chose to withdraw from the case. All the lawyers led by Magaji himself walked out of the courtroom in protest the ruling.
The chairman at this point asked Saraki if he was willing to defend himself. The Senate President in his response replied in the negative. Justice Umar on this note gave Saraki a week ultimatum to get new lawyers, to which the senate president protested that it was not enough to get and brief new lawyers.
Saraki reiterated that he was being put on trial following the circumstances that availed him the position of the Senate President. The tribunal thereafter adjourned its ruling to November 19 for hearing having turned down his request for a month leave.
Earlier in the course of the proceedings, prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, had earlier notified the tribunal that the Saraki’s plea at the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal to stop the ongoing trial had been dismissed in a judgment it delivered on October 30.
“My Lords all the contention as to the jurisdiction of the tribunal has been settled. The Appeal Court held that the charge was proper and the tribunal properly constituted to sit with two members.
“We have the the Certified True Copy of that judgment. This matter was adjourned for report and for continuation of trial, we are ready”, Rotimi submitted.
The defense counsel, Magaji told the tribunal that his client also filed an application for the stay of further proceeding on the matter pending the determination of the appeal at the apex court. He maintained that the CCT was notified of the pendency of the appeal before the Supreme Court through a letter that was addressed to its chairman on November 4.
“In essence, we are saying that we have a valid appeal before your lordships at the Supreme Court”, saying for the tribunal to proceed with hearing on the matter would amount to an affront and disrespect to the judicial hierarchy.