Breaking: CCT chairman, Saraki’s lawyer lash journalists

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It was another day of verbal exchanges between
the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal,
CCT, Danladi Umar and the legal team of Senate
President, Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday.
But both sides took turns to lash at journalists
who they felt were reporting inaccurately, the
outcome of the proceedings of the trial on
charges of false declaration of assets preferred
against Saraki.
Commenting on the alleged media
misrepresentation, Umar, who was angered by
some media reports that the tribunal had
adjourned Saraki’s trial indefinitely, said:
“Journalists should be punished for publishing
falsehood.
“it is a criminal offence. If I have my way I would
bring back Decree 2 of the olden days to take
care of the irresponsible journalists in this
country.
“How can they dare to publish that we have
adjourned the trial of this defendant (Saraki)
indefinitely? It is the highest point of
irresponsible journalism. But I thank God for
them that we are in a democratic era and that is
why they are doing what they are doing now.
“They are embarking on sensational journalism
to sell their newspapers at the expense of truth.
That is not journalism, but a serious crime that
can lead them to jail,” Umar said.
Responding, Agabi, who concurred that the
media needs to report with accuracy, said he
admires journalists a lot, because of their
contributions to the enthronement of democracy
in the country.
According to him, what Nigeria needed now was
peace and not Decree 2, calling on Nigerians to
pray for peace and not what can disturb the
peace of the nation.
Earlier, Umar had fired a salvo when he
expressed his displeasure over what he called
the delay tactics being employed by the defence
lawyers in Saraki’s.
The Senate President has a legal team consisting
of about 100 lawyers, including about 10 Senior
Advocates. The team has also spent 11 days on
the cross-examination of the first defence
witness, Michael Wetkas, and was yet to
conclude.
Umar said: “I am not happy at the delay tactics
by the defence counsel. And I must say this
thing out, that this delay tactics will not reduce
the consequences the defendant will meet from
this tribunal at the end of the trial if he is found
guilty.”
Worried by Umar’s outburst, lead defence lawyer,
Kanu Agabi, SAN, told the tribunal that the
defence team was not comfortable with the
tribunal Chairman’s view on the allegation of
delay made by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi
Jacobs. “From the defence side, we are not worried about
the law and facts that will be placed before this
tribunal by the prosecution. But we are worried
about enemies, who may wish to use this
tribunal to achieve their ulterior motive
.
“As the tribunal Chairman, we love you, we
respect you, but we are afraid of consequences,
especially as just stated by this tribunal this
morning. Our fears have been reinforced, but we
pray against consequences that are against
natural justice,” Agabi said.
After the exchange, a member of the defence
team, Paul Usoro, SAN, continued with the
cross-examination of Wetkas.
Wetkas insisted that Saraki procured undeclared
properties through bank loans of over
N2.5billion.
Responding to questions as to whether there
were economic and financial infractions in the
activities of Skyview properties limited (a
company linked to Saraki), Wetkas said: “The
only thing we found out during investigation is
that, both Plots 2481 and 2482 Cadastral Zone,
Maitama, Abuja were residential properties, and
that loans were taken by Skyview from Guaranty
Trust Bank to develop the properties.
“The loan was in two tranches of N1.8billion and
over N700million. When we interviewed the
Managing Director of Skyview, he said the
transactions were at the instance of the
defendant, and that the property belongs to the
defendant, that formed our basis of the
ownership.”
The witness also confirmed that his investigative
team did not confront Saraki with their findings.
Umar adjourned continuation of proceedings to
June 15 after both Agabi and Usoro asked for a
long adjournment.

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