The number three man in Nigeria, Senate President Bukola Saraki, has decided to tow the path of Rickey Tarfa, as he appeared in court on Friday to face charges of false declaration of assets with a 66-solid defence team among whom are seven senior advocates of Nigeria (SAN).
Recall that just last month, Tarfa, a prominent lawyer facing charges of obstruction of justice and attempting to pervert the course of justice, appeared in court in Lagos with a 90-man defence team.
First the Senate President stormed the Tribunal with over 30 senators on his train, including, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Ben Murray Bruce, Stella Oduah, Hope Uzodinma, Shehu Sani, Dino Melaye, and Sam Anyanwu among others. As soon as the case was called for hearing, Kanu Agabi, (SAN), Saraki’s lead counsel, announced that 66 lawyers were in court to defend the Senate President and as a result, he took almost 10 minutes to read the overly long list of lawyers and for their presence to be acknowledge at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
However, as the case resumed at the tribunal, Mr. Agabi, a former Attorney General of the Federation, presented the court a fresh motion, asking for a ruling from the chairman of the tribunal, Umar Danladi, on the former application that the tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to try Mr. Bukola Saraki.
Mr. Agabi who said a copy of the application had been presented before the Ministry of Justice and was also addressed to the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs argued that the tribunal chair had an obligation to rule on the new application.
Mr. Jacobs objected to the application, citing section 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, saying the matter was not ripe for hearing, and that the application was a new development which he knew nothing about. According to him, “The Ministry of Justice is not the prosecutor in this court”.
In response, Mr. Agabi made an unreserved apology and pleaded with Mr. Jacobs for not handing the application to him personally.
William Atedze, another tribunal judge, earnestly persuaded Mr. Jacobs to indulge Mr. Agabi for the fact that he had tendered an apology and eventually, the tribunal decided to adjourn the trial of the Senate President to March I8th.
Senate President Bukola Saraki is facing a 13 count charge of false declaration of assets relating to his time as Governor of Kwara State.