Raphael Oluyede

The legal team of the Senate president, Bukola Saraki, has said they will explore options available to them after the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar, on Thursday refused to disqualify himself from the corruption trial of Mr. Saraki.

Raphael Oluyede, Mr. Saraki’s lawyer who filed the application, did not clearly explain whether Mr. Saraki would appeal the ruling.
“We have options regarding the ruling and we will explore our options,” Mr. Oluyede told journalists shortly after the ruling.

Mr. Oluyede’s application argued that Mr. Umar was not qualified to handle the case as he had a bribery case against his name.
The judge dismissed the motion, saying it was an “undue intimidation” by the defence team.

Meanwhile, another counsel representing Mr. Saraki at the trial, Paul Usoro, has asked the tribunal to compel the prosecution to explain why it was amending the charge against Mr. Saraki.

The amended part of the charge reads:
“That you on or about, September 16, 2013 within the jurisdiction of this honourable tribunal did make a false declaration in the asset declaration form for public officers who you filled and submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau upon assumption of office as the governor of kwara state in the year 2003 as governor of Kwara state by your failure to declare your leasehold interest in number 42, Remi Fani-kayode street Ikeja, Lagos which you acquired through your company, Skyview Properties Limited from First Finance Trust Ltd. on December 12, 1996 and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(1)(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. CAP. C15, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004 and as incorporated under paragraph 11(1)(2),I fifth schedule to the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and punishable under section 23(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act as incorporated under paragraph 18, Part I of the fifth schedule to the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“That you between June 2011 and October 2013, within the jurisdiction of this honorable tribunal, did receive monthly salaries or emoluments as governor of Kwara state and at the same time, from the federal government as a senator of the federal republic of Nigeria and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 6(a) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. CAP. C15, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004 and as incorporated under paragraph 2(a), Part I of the, fifth schedule to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and punishable under section 23(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal act as incorporated under paragraph 18, Part I of the fifth schedule to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”

Mr. Usoro told the tribunal that based on Section 216 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the prosecution had a legal obligation to explain its reasons for the amendment of the charge.

The prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, however said there was no need for such explanations, saying Section 216 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act allowed the prosecution to amend the charges against an accused person, and explain same to him at any time before the end of the trial.

In his ruling, Mr. Umar held that the prosecution has no need for any formal explanation to the defence counsel and dismissed the application by Mr. Usoro.

The tribunal has gone on a short recess.

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