The Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, at the resumed hearing of the trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki over false asset declaration, ruled in favour of Saraki as he permitted his counsel to continue the cross-examination of a principal witness, Michael Wetkas of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Counsel to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Rotimi Jacobs, objected to Paul Erokoro (SAN), one of Saraki’s lawyers, cross-examining Wetkas, arguing that the defence counsel kept changing the lawyers examining the witness. Kanu Agabi (SAN), Saraki’s lead counsel, and Paul Usoro (SAN), had earlier cross-examined the witness.
“The counsel that started cross examination should finish it. The witness cannot be cross-examined by three lawyers. My learned brother should conclude cross-examining the witness. You can have several lawyers, but only one of them will address the court. That’s why we have lead counsel.
The lead counsel who has started the cross examination is bound to conclude the case. It is not an opportunity for six lawyers to cross examine one witness.
Why I am raising this, is that we have already spent days on cross-examination,” he argued while urging the Tribunal to regulate the proceedings.
In his ruling, Umar held that Saraki had the right to engage as many lawyers as he wanted, and to choose which one of them would speak for him in court.
“The defence has the right to conduct their defence the way it suits them. What we are here to do is to give fair hearing. Paul Erokoro can now conduct the cross examination,” he held.
This is the first ruling the tribunal would give in favour of Saraki. Recalled that Saraki has challenged the jurisdiction of the tribunal and urged the tribunal chairman to disqualify himself from the case.