You’re Biased, Saraki Tells CCJ Chairman

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THE Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, standing trial over alleged false assets declaration, on Wednesday, accused the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Justice Danladi Umar, of being biased.

Saraki, in an application he filed against Umar,  insisted that he could not get justice if he (Umar) continued to preside over his trial.

He urged the CCT boss to disqualify himself from further proceedings in the trial on the alleged falsification.

In the motion on notice filed by Saraki’s lawyer, Mr Raphael Oluyede, it was contended that the continued presence of Umar on the panel offended the provisions of Section 36(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The constitutional provision prescribes that “in the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.”

The applicant claimed that the unfolding events and the manner his trial was being conducted by Umar, there is likelihood of bias from the chairman and as such, he should withdraw himself from further prosecuting him.

The motion on notice was brought pursuant to section 36(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, the common law rule on likelihood of bias and the rules of natural justice.

The defendants in the motion on notice are Mr Umar and the second member of the Tribunal, Mr Agwadza Williams Atedze.

In a 20-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion, Saraki was said to be standing trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) being presided over by Umar.

The affidavit averred that the applicant had sought to enforce his fundamental rights in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/905/2015 before the Federal High Court in Abuja, on the ground that the independence and impartiality of the CCT could not be guaranteed while  Umar presided over the trial of the applicant.

It also averred that Saraki was being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and that Umar, as chairman of CCT, was an object of investigation by the same EFCC on corrupt practices.

The affidavit also claimed that by his conduct in the proceedings, the CCT boss had allegedly proved to be a willing tool in the hands of the executive branch of the government, which was responsible for his appointment and particularly, as he (Umar) was himself under investigation for corruption by EFCC.

The affidavit deposed to by Mr Paul Akase, claimed that neither the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the EFCC nor Umar had ever denied that CCT boss was under investigation.

It also claimed that by the 1999 Constitution the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal  Act, the power to investigate complaint of breach of the Code of Conduct for public officers was the exclusive of the CCB and not the EFCC.

The affidavit further stated that the EFCC’s usurpation of the CCB power had been admitted by the AGF in previous court action instituted by Saraki against the AGF, EFCC, Umar and other defendants.

It, therefore, stated that the interest of justice would be served if Umar excuses or disqualifies himself from sitting in a the panel of the tribunal to hear and determine the charges being prosecuted against the applicant.

No date had been fixed for hearing of the application.

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