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5 Oct 2016
Saraki's Trial: CCT dismisses motion for disqualifying tribunal chairman
The Code of Conduct Tribunal on Wednesday dismissed the motion filed by Senate President Bukola Saraki’s asking the tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, to disqualify himself from further presiding over his (Saraki) on charges relating to asset declaration breaches.
Saraki, had in his motion filed on June 13, 2016 sought the tribunal’s order compelling its chairman to disqualify himself over allegation of a bias statement credited to him during the proceedings of June 7.
The defence had quoted the tribunal chairman to have warned the defence against causing delay of the case with a threat that the delay tactics would not reduce the consequence awaiting the accused. But ruling on the application, the tribunal, held that the comment credited to him was unverified and that the defence failed to meet the legal standard of proving allegation of bias against a judge.
Umar, who read the ruling of the tribunal said the affidavit of “concerned citizens” filed by Saraki to prove the allegation of bias against him was unknown to law.
He said, “It is our holding that the defendant/applicant’s allegation of bias is merely founded on conjecture.
“The allegation of bias is a serious issue and it is capable of destroying public confidence in the institution.
“The affidavit by the concerned citizens does not constitute a standard for proving such serious allegation.
“The tribunal upholds that the application of the applicant is not legally founded and it is hereby refused.”
Reading the ruling of the two-man panel, Umar noted that even if he had wished to withdraw from the trial, the Constitution constraints of removing the tribunal chairman as captured under Paragraph 17(3) and (4) of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution, would not permit him to do so.
He also noted that the practice of asking a judge to recuse or disqualify himself from the trial before the CCT was only application to the Federal High Court, the National Industrial Court, as well as the High Court of the various states of the federation but not to the tribunal.
Noting that no court apart from the CCT has the jurisdiction to try the cases relating to asset declaration -related breaches, Umar added that asking the chairman to recuse himself was tantamount to closing down the tribunal as “without the chairman, there is no tribunal”.