Today’s sitting made it the 20th day the tribunal has sat on the Senate president’s case.
Below is a run down of how the sitting went.
Mr Agabi entered the courtroom at 12:30 p.m., but Mr. Umar is not there to resume.
Justice Danladi Umar has taken his seat, an hour later than the 12:30 he adjourned to for Mr. Agabi to arrive.
The cross examination of Mr Wetkas then continued.
Defence counsel, Mr Usoro, is still poring through exhibits 8 and 9 as submitted to the court by Mr. Wetkas.
The two are dissecting the documents which deal with Mr. Saraki’s transfer of funds from different accounts in both local and foreign currencies.
It’s still part of the cross-examination stage of Mr. Wetkas, an EFCC official who Is the star prosecution witness.
The prosecution is clearly uncomfortable with the progress of the trial so far. Rotimi Jacobs, lead prosecutor, is prevailing on the tribunal chairman not to allow defence team to continue to bring frivolities into the courtroom.
Mr Rotimi said the defence team should not be asking questions that have to do with house numbering because officials from land register department are still coming to testify.
He also said the number of lawyers that should be allowed to cross-examine Mr. Wetkas should be restricted, a request Mr Umar has granted. Mr. Usoro has been the only one cross-examining Mr Wetkas since last week, out of almost 79 lawyers lined up by Saraki.
Mr Umar has adjourned hearing till Wednesday, May 25, for the continuation of cross-examination.
Premium Times reports that Danladi Umar, chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the special court hearing the false and anticipatory assets declaration charge against Saraki, had, last Wednesday, adjourned hearing till Tuesday, May 17 to give both prosecution and defence teams some time to “rest”.
At about 11:49 am on Tuesday
The defence attorney, Paul Usoro, and Mr Wetkas continued from where they both left off last week — the disagreement over the property at 15, MacDonald Road, Ikoyi.
Irregularities spotted in the description of the property is the crux of the exchanges. Prosecution lead, Rotimi Jacobs, is bitter over the argument, saying the trial cannot last forever.
He said the defence team is deliberately wasting crucial time as part of its tactics to stall the trial. Solidarity for the Senate President is unusually small, only two senators are here, in addition to Kawu Baraje, an APC chieftain
The hearing proper continued with the cross-examination of prosecution witness, Michael Wetkas.
The tribunal argued about a story that has been circulating online, alleging a division between the chairman, Mr Umar, and his co-chairman, Phillip Agwaza.
According to the report, Umar always disagrees with Agwaza and that is why Agwaza always keeps quiet. The judges deny the report, scolding the “layman” news reporter.
Meanwhile, Danladi Umar said that only one lawyer should cross examine the witness, Michael Wetkas. He said the lawyer responsible for the cross examination should be only Kanu Agabi, the lead counsel to the Senate president.
Umar directed the defence counsel to restrict the number of lawyers who would cross-examine the prosecution witness to just one, saying that the conduct of the cross-examination had been untidy with the frequent change of lawyers by the defence team.
However, the CCT chairman on Tuesday, May 10, ruled in favor of Saraki, for the first time since the commencement of the trial when he permitted more than one lawyer to cross examine Wetkas. Paul Erokoro, one of the counsel to Saraki asked that he wanted to cross examine Wetkas, who is also Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detective but Rotimi Jacobs, the lead counsel to the federal government objected to his request.
Saraki during one of his appearances at the CCT
Senator Saraki is facing a 16-count charge of fraud levelled against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). The bureau had on September 16, 2015 filed a 13-count charge against Saraki for alleged false and anticipatory declaration of assets, but increased the number to 15 on April 18 and added one more charge on April 27.
After the charges were filed, the senate president was invited to appear before the tribunal on September 18.
In his reaction, Saraki approached the Federal High Court on September 17 to block the trial describing the charges as frivolous and politically motivated.
On September 18, Saraki failed to appear at the CCT, causing the tribunal’s chairman, Danladi Umar, to grant a request by the prosecution that Mr. Saraki be arrested and forced to appear at the trial by the next sitting on September 21.
Saraki’s lawyer, Joseph Daudu, had prayed the court to adjourn till Mr. Saraki’s application was determined at the Federal High Court, but the tribunal held that the FHC could not stop the trial, at the tribunal.
The Senate president further filed an ex-parte motion containing 12 grounds of appeal at the Appeal court, asking it to issue an order demanding the CCT to revoke the bench warrant against him.
He also asked the Appeal Court to compel the tribunal to stay its proceedings pending the determination of its applications at the higher court.
On September 21, Saraki again failed to appear before the tribunal, and explained that he would only appear after the Court of Appeal ruled on his applications.
The Court of Appeal presided by Justice Moore Adumein, on the same day – September 21 –, dismissed Saraki’s appeal on the grounds that the court does not grant ex-parte motions.
Saraki was asked by the court to face his trial till the determination of his application for stay of proceedings.
On September 22, Saraki pleaded not guilty to his charges and was granted bail on self-recognition. The case was then adjourned till October 21.
On that date, the tribunal again adjourned till November 5 to await the determination of other aspects of Mr. Saraki’s applications at the Court of Appeal.
Mr Adumein on October 30, dismissed the application for stay of proceedings, for lacking in merit. But a day before the commencement of his trial at the CCT, Saraki approached the Supreme Court, with a similar appeal, demanding that the tribunal be prevented from continuing the trial.
On October 5, Saraki’s lawyers, Ahmed Magaji and Ahmed Raji, withdrew their representation after a failed attempt to compel the CCT to halt ther trial, pending the determination of the fresh suit at the Supreme Court.
Senate president Bukola Saraki has also been named in Panama Papers scandal.
The action of the two lawyers forced the tribunal to adjourn till November, 19.
However, on November 12, however the Supreme Court issued an order, restraining the tribunal from continuing with the trial till the determination of the application before the Supreme Court.
Subsequently, the tribunal adjourned its sittings indefinitely. It however issued a statement after the Supreme Court on February 5 ruled that Mr. Saraki should return to the tribunal to continue his trial.
In its statement, the CCT said it would continue with the trial on March 10, but had to resume sitting March 11, following a request from the defence counsel.
On March 11, Saraki appeared at the tribunal with 65 lawyers led by Kanu Agabi, who took over from Joseph Daudu.
Mr Agabi, a former Attorney General, tabled an application before the tribunal chair, Danladi Umar, asking him to rule on Saraki’s earlier motion, challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal.
After the defence and prosecution counsel deliberated on the fresh application, ruling was reserved for March 18.
On the next adjourned date, Mr Saraki’s lead counsel again prayed the tribunal to strike out the charges against his client, describing it as invalid.
Agabi argued that the CCB aired when it failed to allow Mr. Saraki the privilege of affirming or denying his charges, before charging him.
The case was then adjourned till March 24 when the tribunal, again, dismissed Mr. Saraki’s applications for lacking in merit and ordered the prosecution to commence its presentation of witnesses on the next adjourned date.
Subsequently on April 5, prosecution witness, Michael Wetkas, an operative of the EFCC began testifying against Saraki.
Mr. Wetkas told the tribunal that Mr. Saraki received salaries for four years after he stopped being governor of Kwara State, in 2011.
He stated that Mr. Saraki maintained a foreign account with the American Express Service, where he transferred $73, 233: 28 from his Nigerian account with the Guaranty Trust Bank.
On April 18, Mr. Saraki’s trial was slated to continue on daily bases, while the Bureau amended his charges with an additional two counts.
On April 28, Mr. Saraki pleaded not guilty to the two new counts, as well as an additional count added to the charge on April 27.
Saraki, whose applications were dismissed on April 15 and 25, respectively by the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal, also approached the Appeal Court with another application on April 28 to contest the decision of the tribunal to dismiss an application by one of his counsels, Raphael Oluyede, that Mr Umar should disqualify himself.
The tribunal fixed May 10 for the continuation of Mr. Saraki’s trial, after dismissing the application on April, 28.
Owing to the time which Saraki’s case has taken at the CCT, a group called Integrity Advocacy Nigeria led by one Tope Ajayi has raised several issues pertaining the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar.
The group alleged that Saraki and his defence team were being stampeded by Justice Umar, noting that it will seem like they are fighting a lost battle.
Justice Umar had insisted that the trial of Saraki must proceed on a daily basis in accordance with the provision of the Administration of Criminal Justice (ACJA) which stipulates that once a trial commences, it should proceed daily.
The group however, noted that two other cases have come up since the Saraki’s trial began. The case of the former minister of Niger Delta affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe and one Rasheed Taiwo, a former customs officer are the cases.