By Dipo Awojobi – The Chairman Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Justice Danladi Umar Tuesday commenced the trial of President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, dismissing move by the defendant for stay of proceeding.
Justice Umar said that after analyzing pleas and objections raised, the Tribunal have come to the conclusion that the matter cannot be adjourned since the Tribunal had earlier ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the same and the position that has been affirmed by the Supreme Court.
He said since the Tribunal has ruled last week that the trial will commence today and “it is ready to take the witnesses for commencement of trial.”
Although, the lead counsel, Kanu Agabi was absent at Tuesday proceeding, however, Mr. Saraki was in court with about 90 lawyers.
During the proceeding, the Code of Conduct Tribunal adjourned for 15 minutes to rule on a request by Mr. Saraki for the adjournment of trial.
Earlier before the recess, Paul Usoro, standing in for Mr. Agabi, had pleaded for stay of trial, while the prosecution counsel urged the tribunal to strike out the request for stay of proceedings before it on the ground that it constitutes abuse of court process.
No sooner the Senate President entered the dock than the prosecution counsel argued that the trial can not proceed. He said his team had filed a motion for stay of proceedings pending the determination of a substantive appeal at the Federal Appeal Court.
Mr. Usoro also argued that adjournment and stay of proceedings are not the same, hence they were treated differently in law.
He also argued that the principle of law for adjournment and stay of proceedings are different.
Mr. Usoro argued that there was no limit to the number of adjournment that can be granted by a court in ACJA, adding that this was why the Act prescribes imposition of fines for frivolous request for adjournment.
He told Chairman of the tribunal that he was leading a team of 90 lawyers and apologised for the absence of Agabi, who was stranded in Akwa Ibom by flight difficulties.
Similarly, Mr. Jacobs said he was served the motion for stay of proceedings about 30 minutes to the commencement of trial, asking the court to proceed with the trial.
He argued that a motion filed when a court is about to proceed cannot stop the trial, pointing out that the motion was filed today 5 April.
“My Lord, we are ready,” Rotimi declared.