Few might disagree while majority will agree with me that the Code of Conduct Tribunal was not quite popular before the Tinubu and his gang of 10 Senior Advocates of Nigeria led by Wole Olanipekun and Co. (Olurotimi Akeredolu, Charles Edosanwa, Niyi Akintola, Dele Belgore, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, Kabiru Turaki, Ifedayo Adedipe, Deji Sashogbon, Dele Adeshina, Femi Falana among other lawyers) bambozzled the Danladi Yakubu Umar tribunal. The Tribunal was the news then and went into oblivion immediately after the demise of the case against Tinubu (still debatable but i doubt it).
The Tribunal is now in the news with Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki as the main act headlining (edlining, i mean) the show. Only this time, the showdown is characterized by battle of supremacy between the senate president and the tribunal chairman. The tribunal chairman has no time for filibusters while the senate president has perfected the art of stonewalling.
As the drama unfolds and the dramatis personae continue in their no-hold-barred sparring sessions. The following showdown moments of them caught my attention.
Jurisdiction drama: The trial was kick started and almost lasted forever with the lack of jurisdiction drama when the senate president filed a suit to halt his trial at the Code of Conduct trial and he fought from the Federal High Court in Lagos to the Supreme Court, his case was finally dismissed at the Supreme Court. After he became a villain in this episode, he opened his defence with the tribunal.
Opening of defence: On April 6th, 2016, the senate president made history for expressing his happiness that the trial finally commenced and it is time for him to clear his name (Really, smug face) and he took his place in the dock room for the trial to begin.
Day to day court session: the trial after the opening of defence has been characterized by different delay tactics by both counsels. From the defence counsel asking for more time to prepare for the case to the leading prosecuting counsel seeking hours of stand down for a brief cameo at Court of Appeal in Abuja. The trial judge had no choice but to exercise his power and directed for a day-to-day trial despite the senate president tight legislative schedule.
Adjournment Plea: More salt was added to the injury when the leading defence counsel, Kanu Agabi moved for adjournment. Agabi grandstand the court and Nigerians when he said, “My lord, we need time to rest, you worked so hard as a lawyer and till now still working hard. We need time to rest. He added that, “This profession is destroying its professionals as we are made to sit in for a whole day during some proceedings. I know many of my colleagues who have died and their wives are now widows because of this kind of action”.
He went further, “All I ask for is an adjournment to allow us rest. As early as 2am, I am in my office preparing for this matter so I beg for time”. Umar reply was epic, he said, “We just got back from break and you are asking for an adjournment, He concluded with, this matter is a summary one and we want to get it done with as soon as possible”.
Senate Summon of Trial Judge: To the public dismay, the trial chairman was summoned by the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to answer on corruption allegations levelled against him immediately after the trial chairman ruled for a day-to-day trial of the Senate president (Delay tactic, Who does that!!!). Maybe, the senate committee felt obliged to participate in the process than carry out their legislative function.
The ultimate end of every showdown is when the curtain falls and the light beams on the victor, who wins this showdown is too early to be determined but a win-win event will not appeal to Nigerians. Only time will tell.
Written by: Dosunmu Moshood