11 March 2016

Nigeria: Sixty Five Lawyers Represent Senate President Saraki As Tribunal Adjourns Corruption Trial

The Code of Conduct Tribunal has adjourned the trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to March I8.

The tribunal, Friday, took the decision after Mr. Saraki's new lawyer, Kanu Agabi, asked the tribunal to rule first on the senate president's objection to the powers of the tribunal to try him.

Mr. Saraki is facing charges of alleged false asset declaration and corruption.

The senate president's bid to thwart the trial failed after the Supreme Court said the tribunal has powers and was constituted to hear the case against Mr. Saraki.

On resumption of the case at the tribunal, Mr. Agabi, a former Attorney General of the Federation, who led 64 other lawyers to represent Mr. Saraki, presented a fresh motion, seeking a ruling from the chairman of the tribunal, Umar Danladi, on the initial application that the tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to try Mr. Saraki.

Mr. Agabi said a copy of the application had been presented before the Ministry of Justice and was also addressed to the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs.

He argued that the tribunal chair had an an obligation to rule on the new application.

Citing section 396, of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, Mr. Jacobs objected to the application, saying the matter was ripe for hearing, and that the application was a new development which he knew nothing about.

"The Ministry of Justice is not the prosecutor in this court," Mr. Jacobs said.

He added that the new move by Mr. Saraki's team was new to him.

Responding, Mr. Agabi pleaded with Mr. Jacobs and apologised for not personally handing the application to him.

Another tribunal judge, William Atedze, urged Mr. Jacobs to indulge Mr. Ahabi since he had apologised.

The matter was adjourned till March I8.

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