actors in the trial? Here are the key figure.
Saraki, Dino Melaye, Danjuma Goje and others after the Code of Conduct Tribunal sitting in Abuja in Abuja on Wednesday
The trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has come to an end.
Danladi Umar, chairman of the tribunal, discharged the senate president of all 18-count charge of false asset declaration brought against him by the federal government on Wednesday. This was after 90-weeks drama and intrigues.
The trial, which started in September 2015, was not smooth. There were intermittent legal hiccups effectuated by Saraki in a bid to halt it.
All of that is now over, but here are the key figures in one of the high profile trials in Nigeria’s judicial history.
Daodu (SAN) was Saraki’s lead counsel before an altercation with the tribunal chairman forced him to withdraw his services. He teamed up with Mahmud Magagi, also a senior lawyer, in the early days of the trial.
Daodu was the counsel who pleaded with the tribunal to give Saraki a “second chance” after a bench warrant was issued against him. However, his approach to the trial was belligerent, and he often insisted that the tribunal had no jurisdiction to hear the charges against his client.
On November 5, he and his team of lawyers walked out on the CCT judge after he dismissed their application seeking to stop the trial pending the determination of an appeal at the supreme court.
Daodu could not secure any win of Saraki during his stint as lead counsel. The supreme court dismissed his appeal challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal. And that was how far he could go in the case.
Agabi (SAN), a former attorney-general of the federation (AGF), brought humour, dexterity and tact to Saraki’s trial. He also brought one other thing to the trial – 106 lawyers – which he often said was the largest consortium of legal professionals handling a single case in Nigeria.
Agabi teamed up with three other senior lawyers – KK Eleja, Paul Usoro and Paul Erokoro – in the trial. When the courtroom is bursting with heated arguments and tension, Agabi would make a wisecrack to bring calm to the situation. He took the trial through a causal path despite the enormity of the charges. He also brought control and legal gravitas to the occasion.
Although, the tribunal dismissed two of the applications he filed for the discharge of Saraki, he never resorted to verbal brawls to express his displeasure. The CCT judge and the lead prosecution counsel accorded him respect, perhaps because of his age and experience, but most importantly because his gentle disposition to cutting issues.
On Wednesday, he won his case for the senate president.
Jacobs (SAN) took the offensive line in the trial. He prosecuted the case firmly and daringly. He was a combative prosecutor. He was always quick to challenge or to object to any submission he found prejudicial to his case. And he always had the last words.
The counsel showed emotion in the trial. He once flayed the defence side for addressing Saraki as senate president at the tribunal, because according to him, he was an accused person and as such his position was immaterial.
He presented four witnesses out of the eight which he had told the tribunal he would call. But he could not make a strong case against the defendant because all his witnesses gave contradictory testimonies.
The tribunal ruled against him after weeks of passionate prosecution.
Wetkas was the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detective who testified against Saraki.
He was the first and principal witness the prosecution called. He gave testimonies of how the senate president allegedly laundered money to purchase property in Abuja and Lagos, which were allegedly undeclared, and of how he received monthly salaries from Kwara state government while he was a senator.
He is, perhaps, a celebrated witness giving the media attention to his testimonies.
But under cross-examination, he could not substantiate his claims. His cross-examination took weeks to complete.
Umar is the chairman of the CCT. He blew hot in the early days of the trial – threatening to arrest Saraki and vowing to make the case go on from day to day. But he later became lukewarm and amiable.
He received some “negative” attention when he said he would like a return of Buhari’s Decree 4 which stifled press freedom. He had also gaffed a couple of times during the trial and dismissed a flurry of applications from the defence side.
He once said Saraki knew he would face the consequences for his action; hence he was delaying his trial.