The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has filed another application to disqualify Danladi Umar, the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, from continuing to preside over his trial.
Danladi Umar, chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, however, ordered security operatives attached to Saraki to leave the courtroom, even as the tribunal warned against posting clips of its proceeding on social media.
Ajibola Oluyede, a counsel to Saraki, who is being tried for alleged false and anticipatory assets declaration, filed the application shortly after the trial resumed yesterday. He said the tribunal chairman still had a serious corruption case against him with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and premised his application on Section 36(1) of the constitution, which addressed the issue of biases and the rules of natural justice.
Oluyede had unsuccessfully moved a similar application last week, which resulted in a heated exchange between him and Umar.
After reading his motion, Oluyede called the attention of the court to a letter written to the Attorney-General by the EFCC chairman in February 2015, which was part of his exhibits against Umar.
Oluyede read out paragraph four of the letter: “There are indications that the tribunal chairman might have demanded and collected money from the complainant through his said personal assistant.
“However, efforts made to recover the telephone handset used by Justice Umar proved abortive, as he claimed that he had lost the telephone in 2012.
“This has made it impossible to subject it to independent scientific analysis, with a view to corroborating the allegation. In the same vein, the complainant could also not make available his telephone set for analysis on the grounds that he had lost it.
“Justice Umar also admitted that he met privately with the complainant in his chamber at the tribunal. This is a most unethical and highly suspicious conduct on his part.”
Justice Umar had initially declined to entertain the motion, but prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, urged him to admit the application so that it can be argued. The letter cited is a 2014 petition sent to the EFCC, in which Rasheed Taiwo, a retired Customs official, claimed to have been pressured by Mr. Umar for a N10 million bribe.
The EFCC has repeatedly said it had no evidence to prosecute Umar over the matter.