We resisted pressure to convict Tinubu, says Umar
*CCT chairman pledges fairness, justice in Saraki’s case
Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr. Danladi Umar, shocked the audience at the tribunal yesterday when he confessed that there were attempts to influence the tribunal to rule in a particular way during the trial of a former Governor of Lagos State, and the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Tinubu, then leader of opposition to the Peoples Democratic Party-led Federal Government, was charged before the CCT and discharged in 2011 during the administration of the former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The CCT chairman said this while allaying the fears of Saraki and his lawyers that the tribunal was being controlled by external influence, assuring the defence team of the determination of the tribunal to do justice in the case, as he and his co-panel member would give account to God.
Umar alluded to Tinubu’s case, saying that despite the pressure mounted on the tribunal, it ruled in favour of the former Lagos State Governor.
“I swear by the Almighty Allah to do justice. On our part, the insinuation that we are being influenced to see the conviction of the accused is false. During Bola Tinubu ‘s case, we were under influence to convict him but we did the right thing,” Umar revealed.
Umar also spoke on the number of counsel at the resumed trial yesterday. According to him, the records of the tribunal showed that there were about 100 counsel standing for the defendant.
The chairman observed that there had been too many counsel cross-examining the witnesses. This, he said, made the process untidy. To ensure orderliness, he stated all the other lawyers could assist the leader of the defense team, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN) rather than every other person on the defence team doing the job.
“Henceforth, only the lead counsel, Agabi can do the cross-examination. For the purpose of the records of the court, it will be tidy for only the lead counsel to do the cross-examination,” he said.
In his response, Agabi reminded the court that all the persons in the case would account to God and they should all be worried about that fact.
Umar, however, replied that there was nothing that he had done to distort the records of the court.
Agabi continued, “Are you surprised that those who come before you are afraid? People come here and they are ruled by fear of prejudice. Prejudice ought not to have a place in this court but we are afraid.”
Prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs said he suggested that Saraki’s counsel could speak through the lead counsel, noting that every court has a duty to regulate its proceedings.
“Their fear of prejudice is unfounded because no court has turned down any of your rulings,” Jacobs stated.
Agabi, however, stated that he is not accusing the court of prejudice.
Co-member of the tribunal, Atedze William, stated that the issue had been settled and that an accused person is entitled to as many lawyers as he wanted.