The Code of Conduct Tribunal has shifted the commencement of the trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki on 13 counts of false assets declaration from March 10 to March 11.
The Danladi Umar-led CCT had, after the judgment of the Supreme Court delivered on February 5, validating the trial of the Senate President and the charges preferred against him, fixed March 10 for the prosecution to open its case.
But the Head, Press and Public Relations of the CCT, Mr. Ibraheem Al-hassan, said in a statement on Tuesday that the trial had been shifted to March 11 following a request by Saraki’s new lead counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN).
According to Al-hassan, Agabi pleaded with the CCT to shift the trial date by one day on the grounds that he had urgent matters to attend to in other courts on March 10.
The CCT spokesperson said Agabi conveyed his request to the CCT in a letter dated February 26, 2016.
He quoted Agabi’s letter as stating, ‘‘I write as lead counsel for the above defendant to apply that the matter, which is now scheduled to come up on March 10, 2016, subject to the convenience of the Honourable Tribunal and learned counsel for the prosecution, be taken on March 11, 2016, due to my earlier and urgent commitments in other courts on the 10th.
“I will sincerely appreciate the indulgence of the tribunal to accommodate me in this way’’.
Al-hassan said Agabi ended his letter “by apologising for the inconvenience caused to the honourable tribunal and other learned counsel.”
Agabi might have taken over from a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), as the lead counsel, after the judgment of the Supreme Court was delivered on February 5.
Daudu had led a retinue of Senior Advocates of Nigeria and other lawyers to argue the objection of the Senate President to the trial at the CCT right from the tribunal up to the Supreme Court level.
A seven-man panel of the apex court, presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, unanimously ruled in its judgment on February 5 that Saraki’s appeal against the jurisdiction of the CCT and the competence of the charges lacked merit.
Justice Walter Onnoghen, who delivered the lead judgment, dismissed all Saraki’s seven grounds of appeal, affirming that the charges instituted against him were valid and that the tribunal was validly constituted with requisite jurisdiction to try him.