The Senate President, Bukola Saraki has insisted that he cannot get a fair hearing before Danladi Umar, the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
Paul Erokoro SAN, one of Saraki’s counsel told the CCT boss that the Senate president standing trial before him on false assets declaration cannot get justice from him because of his biased and prejudicial comments in the trial.
Erokoro while moving an application filed by Saraki asked the CCT chairman to disqualify himself from further participating in the trial because of his biased disposition.
The CCT chairman had on June 7 threatened Saraki that the delayed tactics being employed by his lawyers will not reduce the consequences he would face at the end of the trial.
In his submissions on the motion on notice, Erokoro, claimed that the comment by the chairman was prejudicial to Saraki and that Saraki can no longer get fair trial from the Tribunal in line with the provision of section 36 of the 1999 constitution.
He told the Tribunal that neither the chairman who was personally served with the motion on notice informing him of the prejudicial statement made in the open court on June 7 did not deny the statement either the prosecution too.
Erokoro further submitted that by implication, the CCT chairman and the prosecution have implicitly admitted making the statement and as such, the chairman should disqualify himself in the interest of justice and fair trial.
He further submitted that the Independence and the impartiality of the chairman as envisaged in section 36 of the constitution can no longer be guaranteed and that a good reason for the CCT chairman to disqualify himself from the trial had already been established and that he will not be able to balance the scale of justice.
“Once a Judge by word or action show that he cannot hold the scale of justice, he should disqualify himself” he said.
When asked on what happens to the Tribunal should the chairman disqualify himself, Erokoro said that there is a statutory provisions for the establishment of the Tribunal with a full complement of three members and that the appointing authority can do the needful by appointing more.
Saraki had in the motion specifically demanded for the removal of Umar from the panel of the tribunal that will prosecute because of the open threat of Umar to unleash the full weight of the law on him at the end of his trial for the sins of his lawyers.
Saraki claimed that the threat made by Umar in the open court was a clear indication that the tribunal had made up its mind to convict him at all cost irrespective of the evidence at the trial.
In a fresh motion on notice brought pursuant to section 36 of the 1999 constitution, Saraki insisted that the tribunal chairman was in a worry to convict him without giving him a fair hearing or fair opportunity to defend himself.
In the motion filed by his lead counsel Kanu Agabi SAN, Saraki stated that the threat by the CCT chairman was biased and cannot accord him a fair trial.
The motion predicated on eight grounds indicated that the threat of consequences issued by Umar has caused Saraki to lose confidence in the impartiality of the chairman and he is no longer confident that he can get justice from the tribunal if the chairman continues to participate in the hearing and the determination of the case against him.
Part of the grounds of the motion was that the defendant has lost confidence in the ability of the tribunal chairman to conduct a fair trial and dispense justice according the law.
The defendant is deeply worried and now lives in perpetual fear since the statement was made by the Chairman of the tribunal and no longer believes that Justice can be done in the trial.
Saraki denied the allegation by the CCT Chairman his lawyers have been employing delay tactics to frustrate the trial.
However, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacob SAN, in his vehement opposition to the motion said that the application was frivolous, and was an abuse of court process and a deliberate attempt to delay the trial.
Apparently justifying the alleged prejudicial comment of the CCT chairman, Rotimi claimed that it was true that the trial was being delayed by the defence and that the chairman only warned Saraki on the consequences of the trial and not the consequences of the charge.
He also said that Saraki had filed similar applications before asking for the same prayers and that since appeal on the earlier ones are still pending before the appellate court, the Tribunal should resist the temptation to do the statutory job on the Appeal Court.