The Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Danladi Umar, said yesterday that the tribunal and its members were subjected to “serious influence” during the trial of a former Lagos State Governor and national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Umar said, unlike what obtained during the Tinubu trial, the tribunal was not under any external influence or interference in its handling of the trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. “I want to say that in the case of Bola Tinubu, we were under serious influence, but we did what we had to do and discharged him. So we must be fair to ourselves not to delay this trial. “The insinuation that we are being influenced in this case is not true. We are all answerable to Allah, when we breathe our last,” Umar said.
Tinubu was taken before the tribunal in 2011 for allegedly operating foreign accounts while serving as governor between 1999 and 2007. The charge was struck out, following which he was discharged.
Umar said he was guided by his conscience, the urge to do justice and the belief that everyone is answerable to Allah (GOD) when he dies.
The CCT Chairman spoke at the resumption of Saraki’s trial yesterday. He was reacting to insinuation in the media that the tribunal was being influenced to give a guilty verdict against Saraki.
The second member of the tribunal, William Agwadza Atedze, frowned at attempts to tarnish the reputation of the tribunal’s members through sponsored media publications.
“At the weekend, there was an article in the paper about me. It was titled: ‘CCT and the bird of the same feather.’ The author is taking on the wrong person, I do not keep quiet.
“The insinuation that we have been compromised is not true. Adebayo Adelodun and Yusuf Ali (two senior lawyers in Saraki’s legal team) were my classmates at ABU (Ahmadu Bello University). I am very outspoken and I have not changed.
“When they say one member of the bench is not contributing enough, do you want us to be fighting on the Bench or disagreeing in the open? The Bench is not a motor park. When we do not agree on any issue we resolve it in the office.
“This is not about the headship of Senate. This is not about an individual. It is about the country. This country is on its knees. Today, we cannot buy common tomatoes in the market. This is about the country. It is not about an individual. This case is a watershed, no matter which way it goes at the end of the day,” Atedze said.
Responding, leader of Saraki’s legal team Kanu Agabi (SAN) admitted that the defence had before yesterday expressed fear about the proceedings. He said they were now assured that justice would be done since the tribunal Chairman has placed the proceedings before God.
Agabi said: “There is nothing lawyers fear most than prejudice. We are glad that you have declared that you fear God and committed this proceedings to God.
“Prejudice ought not to have a place in the law court, but today it is. Because you have called the name of God, may God guide you. I pray for you everyday that God should protect you. You are a young man, handling a critical issue in our nation’s life,” Agabi said.
Lead prosecution lawyer Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) urged the tribunal members to ignore the impression being created about them in the media and not be bothered by it.
“It is not only this tribunal and its members that they are writing about. They have also written all sorts of things about us. It is what we are subjected to everyday,” Jacobs said.
He said Agabi’s claim that they fear prejudice was uncalled for. He said: “All the rulings of this tribunal have been upheld by the appellate courts. So, where is the claim of prejudice?
“We have nothing to hide. We cannot tell lies against anybody. I cannot ask my witness to tell lies. We mention more of God in this country but we do less of God. That is our problem,” Jacobs said.