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CCT recants, says only lead counsel can cross-examine witness

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CCT says only lead counsel can cross-examine witness

Justice Danladi Umar, Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal [CCT] has rescinded his earlier decision in the case of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

Justice Umar had, in an earlier ruling, allowed counsels to the Senate President to take turns at the prosecuting witnesses.

However, in a sharp u-turn on Tuesday before proceedings began, the Tribunal Chairman changed his mind.

According to him, the records of the Tribunal showed that there were about 100 counsels for the defence.

Therefore, there had been too many counsels cross-examining the witness, a situation he said could make the process untidy.

“To ensure orderliness all counsels cannot cross-examine the witness.

“All the other lawyers could assist Mr Kanu Agabi (Saraki’s lead counsel) rather than every other person in the defence doing the job.

“This will make the process untidy. So, henceforth only the lead counsel, Mr Kanu Agabi, can do the cross-examination,” Mr Danladi stressed.

Raising an issue that had earlier been brought before the Tribunal, Mr Agabi said that he feared prejudice.

“I want to assure you that there is nothing that we have done here to distort the records of the court.

“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 at this court but we are afraid,” he stressed.

Counsels to Bukola Saraki, Mr Agabi, however, pointed out that he had not accused the Tribunal of prejudice.

The Chairman of the Tribunal allaying the defence counsel’s fears, further pledged to be fair in the hearing and to ensure justice.

“I swear by the Almighty Allah to do justice.

“On our part, the insinuations 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,” he told the Tribunal.

Responding to the Tribunal Chairman’s statement, Mr Agabi said he agreed that all the persons in the case would account to God and stressed that “they should all be worried by that fact”.

Another member of the Tribunal also stressed that the issue had been settled, saying that an accused person is entitled to as many lawyers as he wanted.

He, however, pointing out that the Chairman’s remark was to ensure that there was order in court.

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