The ongoing trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, sitting in Abuja, took a new twist, yesterday, as the Federal Government applied to amend the initial 13-count charge it entered against him.
The government made the application on a day the CCT Chairman, Justice Danladi Umar, ordered the arrest of one of the lawyers representing Saraki in the matter.
However, Saraki, through his lead counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, vehemently opposed the Federal Government’s bid to amend the charges already pending against him before the tribunal. Specifically, government added two more court charges to the previous charge against Saraki.
Investigations revealed that the amendment was a fallout of some revelations made by the star prosecution witness in the matter, Mr. Michael Wetkas. Wetkas was the head of a three-man crack team of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, that investigated six separate petitions that culminated in the charge against the defendant.
In the amended 15-count charge dated April 18, the Federal Government alleged that Saraki, while being a senator between June 2011 and October 2013, “did receive monthly salaries or emoluments as governor of Kwara State and at the same time from the Federal Government of Nigeria as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The defendant was said to have by his action, “committed an offence contrary to section 6(a) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, Cap. C15, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2014, and as incorporated under Paragraph 2(a), Part 1, Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.”
The Federal Government insisted that the alleged offence was punishable under section 23(c) of the CCB & Tribunal Act and as incorporated under Paragraph 18 of Part 1, Fifth Schedule to the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Judge orders police to arrest his lawyer The trial kicked-off on a dramatic note, yesterday, as the CCT Chairman, Justice Umar, ordered police to arrest one of Saraki’s lawyers. Justice Umar ordered armed security operatives to whisk the lawyer, Mr. Richard Oluyede, away from the court room after he insisted on moving the fresh motion seeking to disqualify the judge from presiding over Saraki’s trial. At the resumed hearing, Oluyede, who was not previously part of Saraki’s legal team before the tribunal, stood up and announced his appearance, even as he drew the attention of the CCT panel to the pending application he filed on Wednesday.
At the time the case was called up, none of Saraki’s lead counsel was present in court. Whereas Agabi was said to have gone to the Federal High Court to take care of another matter, Usoro on the other hand secured permission of the tribunal to appear late owing to the fact that he was bereaved.
Due to the development, another lawyer in Saraki’s camp, Mr. Adebayo Adelodun, SAN, took over the leadership of the defence team. However, shortly after Adelodun finished announcing names of other lawyers in the team, Oluyede stood up and attempted to move the motion against Justice Umar.
“My Lord, we have a pending application asking you to excuse yourself from this matter,” Oluyede started.