•Walk Out On Code on Conduct Tribunal •Plans Protest Letter To NJC
Lawyers to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, made up of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Alhaji Mahmoud Magagi SAN, Ahmed Raji SAN, and Saka Abimbola Isah SAN, leading the legal team, yesterday staged a walk out on the code of conduct Tribunal in Abuja to protest alleged bias. Following the development, sources close to the Senate President’s team said they were planing letter to the national Judicial Council (NJC) to protest the biased conduct of the tribunal in the Saraki’s trial.
The angry lawyers in company of about 100 others withdrew their services in the prosecution of Saraki by Federal Government, accusing the tribunal of open bias against the Senate President and displaying what they say is “judicial rascality” in the handling of the case. The lawyers were angered by resolve by the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, Danladi Yakubu Umar not stay the trial in spite of the pending appeal case of Saraki at the Supreme Court.
Magaji who first withdrew his services in the trial told tribunal point blank that going ahead with the prosecution amounted to daring and prejudicing the Supreme Court in the pending appeal case of the Senate President. He told the Chairman that as a Senior Counsel in the Bar, and a minister in the temple of justice, he would not wish to be part of illegality and affront to the apex court. Ahmed Raji SAN who followed suit, in withdrawing from the suit informed the tribunal chairman of setting a bad precedent by sitting on the same issue with the Supreme Court at the same time.
Raji explained that apart from the law and practice, it was the tradition of respect that when the Supreme Court has been invited into a matter, the lower court will as a matter of tradition, allow the apex court decide the matter first before taking over. “In my capacity as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, I have not seen where this kind of conduct will be exhibited against the apex court of the country”. “The action of this code of conduct Tribunal is an affront to the constitution and to the Supreme Court and from my own side, I will not wish to be part of this act”.
“I find it most impossible to sit down here and participate in a proceeding whose legality is being challenged at the Supreme Court”. Traditional Chiefs from the Ilorin Emirate led b the Magaji Nda Dr. Salihu Mohammed also walked out along with the teaming supporters of the Senate President for the same reasons. Earlier both Magaji and Raji had asked the tribunal to stay proceeding pending the time the Supreme Court will make pronouncement in the appeal case of Saraki in which he has been challenging the legality of his trial.
They cited several authorities to buttress their arguments on the need for the tribunal to grant adjournment. But in a ruling, the chairman of the tribunal dismissed the application for adjournment and agreed with the prosecution counsel Mr. Rotimi Jacobs SAN that trial must go ahead in spite of the appeal at the Supreme Court. The tribunal chairman held that the action of the defence was a ploy to delay the trial adding that the arguments canvassed by Saraki’s lawyers have been overtaken by the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 which he said, gave no room for delay in trial.
“It is an obvious fact, that where a party wants to delay trial, the party normally rush to the higher court, as in this case, but the intendment of the ACJA has taken care of such attitude where criminal trials are unjust delayed. We will not allow that, we are going ahead with the trial”. The tribunal however ran into trouble when no lawyer showed up to defend Saraki. Saraki was then asked whether he would defend himself in the charge against him.
–Tony Ailemen, Abuja