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Saraki’s Lawyers Walk Out of CCT Trial in Protest

Kayode Sesan

The legal team of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Thursday withdrew their representation in the corruption trial of Mr. Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The lawyers walked out on the tribunal on Thursday after the special court refused to suspend the trial to allow the Supreme Court rule on the matter.

Mr. Saraki is facing a 13-count charge bordering on alleged corruption and false declaration of assets.

He was arraigned on September 18, but pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted bail.

On Wednesday, Mr. Saraki appealed to the Supreme Court to stop the trial after the Court of Appeal in Abuja refused his request last week.

At the resumed hearing Thursday, Mr. Saraki’s lawyers argued that the case be stood down for the Supreme Court to take a decision.

Two of his counsels, Ahmed Magaji, SAN and Ahmed Raji, SAN walked out of the Code of Conduct Tribunal after chairman of the tribunal, Umar Danladi, decided to continue hearing.

The lawyers, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria, described the decision of Mr. Umar as “judicial rascality” never seen in their years of legal practice.

“It is a strange situation; it is not done anywhere that a matter is pending before a higher court, as the one in the Supreme Court and proceedings will continue in a smaller court,” Mr. Magaji said.

While Mr. Magaji left without a direct request for permission to withdraw his appearance, Mr. Raji requested to be allowed to stand down, saying he would not allow himself to be forced into making any explanations at the Supreme Court, because of his involvement in the court’s decision to continue sitting.

The Federal Government had on Thursday told the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, sitting in Abuja that it is ready to open its case against the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

Government lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, notified the tribunal that the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal had in a judgment it delivered on October 30, dismissed Saraki’s appeal against his trial.

“My Lords all the contention as to the jurisdiction of the tribunal has been settled. The Appeal Court held that the charge was proper and the tribunal properly constituted to sit with two members.

“We have the the Certified True Copy of that judgment. This matter was adjourned for report and for continuation of trial, we are ready”, Rotimi submitted.

However, Saraki, through his lawyer, Mr. Mahmud Magaji, SAN, urged the tribunal to adjourn the trial and await the decision of the appeal he has lodged before the Supreme C‎ourt.

‎Magaji told the tribunal that his client also filed an application for the stay of further proceeding on the matter pending the determination of the appeal at the apex court.

He said that the CCT was notified of the pendency of the appeal before the Supreme Court via a letter ‎that was addressed to its chairman on November 4.



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