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    Tuesday, May 10, 2016

    At tribunal, Saraki Gets ‘First’ Ruling In His Favour

    The Code of Conduct Tribunal on Tuesday dismissed a request by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, that the senate president, Bukola Saraki, should only use a particular counsel for the cross-examination of a witness.

    It was the first ruling so far given by the tribunal in favour of Mr. Saraki, since the start of his trial for alleged corruption in September 2015.
    Previous applications by the senate president never succeeded.
    Mr. Saraki, who is facing a 16-count charge of false declaration of assets, had asked the tribunal, through his lead counsel, Kanu Agabi, to allow a different counsel, Paul Irokoro, to go ahead with the cross- examination of the witness, Michael Wetkas, who was previously examined by another of Mr. Saraki’s lawyers, Paul Usoro.

    Mr. Jacobs however objected to the application by Mr. Agabi and asked the tribunal to ensure that Mr. Saraki’s lead counsel be the only counsel to cross examine Mr. Wetkas, who is the first prosecution witness to testify against Mr. Saraki.
    Mr. Jacobs cited Section 349 (7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, to support his point that only the lead counsel should cross examine Mr. Wetkas.
    But a member of the bench, William Atedze, told Mr. Jacobs that the section alluded to, does not require the use of only the lead counsel for the said cross-examination.
    Mr. Irokoro said the law allowed Mr. Saraki to have as many representatives as he would like to, and that the defence has not acted outside the provisions of the law.

    In his ruling, the tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, ruled that the tribunal would act based on the provisions of the law.
    He added that while the defence counsel should not abandon the case at any point, the defendant had the right to be represented by as many counsels as possible.
    “The emphasis is on counsels,” said Mr. Umar, who retained the application of the defence to continue the cross-examination with a different counsel.

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