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Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, succeeded in stopping his trial on charges of false assets declaration before the Code of Conduct Tribunal from taking off on Friday.
The trial was scheduled to commence on Friday, but Saraki’s new lead counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), informed the Danladi Umar-led tribunal that he had filed a motion which he said must be heard before trial could commence.
But the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), described the motion as “a deliberate attempt to stop the trial from going on”.
“The defendant keeps saying that there is no case against him and that he is being persecuted. Why doesn’t he let the trial start so that the whole world can see the persecution?” Jacobs asked.
The prosecutor, who said he had not been served with the motion, insisted that by virtue of the judgment of the Supreme Court delivered on February 5 which validated the trial, the day’s business was for the prosecution to open its case.
He added that by virtue of section 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, even if the motion was heard, ruling on it could only be delivered along with the judgment in the case.
But Agabi, who apologised for the erroneous service of his motion on the Federal Ministry of Justice instead of the prosecution, said since his motion was challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal, it must be heard before going into the substantive case.
Jacobs later accepted service of the motion in open court and the tribunal chairman resolved that the two parties should exchange other processes in relation to the motion before March 18.
The tribunal fixed March 18 for the hearing of the motion, adding that ruling on it would be deferred and trial would commence on the same day.
Saraki, was accompanied to the Friday’s proceedings by about 40 senators.
Some of the prominent senators who were at the tribunal included, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Stella Oduah, Danjuma Goje, Samuel Anyanwu, Tayo Alasoadura, Ben Bruce, Shehu Sani, Hope Uzodima and Dino Melaye.