Group Queries Danladi Umar’s Insistence On Presiding Over Saraki’s Trial


BEVERLY HILLS, May 03, (THEWILL) – A group which goes by the name: Youths for Total Change, YTC, has queried the rationale behind the insistence of the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, Justice Danladi Umar, to sit over the trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

In a statement issued on Tuesday by its President, Yusuf Baba, YTC said it was strange that despite the issues raised by the defence team on the morality of Umar continuing as the trial judge, he has refused to disqualify himself.

Baba claimed that the position of the CCT Chairman has already tainted the trial, alleging that everyone following proceedings at the tribunal now knows that there is a pre-conceived ending for the trial.

He noted that if that was not the case, there would have been no big deal in Umar stepping down for another judge to preside over the trial.

The statement added: “It is intriguing that despite the fact that Dr. Saraki says he is not opposed to his being tried but has questioned the integrity of the person sitting over his trial; Justice Umar has refused to step down.

“In saner climes, Justice Umar does not even need the defence to oppose his continued sitting on the trial team before he relinquishes the position to a person more worthy than he is to run through the trial.

“The issues raised concerning him are to grievous than for him to insist on going ahead with the trial.

“A man of tainted and questionable character cannot and should not be on the panel of a body such as the CCT.

“Otherwise, what Justice Umar is just confirming to Nigerians and the whole world is that there is a pre-conceived ending to the trial that he has been nominated to execute.

“He is the Executioner-in-Chief in this case of hanging Saraki by all means.”

YTC said the amendment of the 13 count charge to 16 has gone further to show that the prosecution was not set for the trial but just looking for evidence during the course of the trial to nail Saraki.

The statement continued: “Or how do you explain the fact that the CCT is relying on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to prosecute a case that is solely within its jurisdiction?

“And even at that, the focus of the trial is that Saraki allegedly failed to disclose his assets when he was the Governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.

“So what has that got to do with the salacious tales to which the EFCC's so-called key witness has been treating Nigerians to, alleging that Saraki has been collecting his salary as Governor after leaving office and still being paid retirement entitlements?

“And yet, from the evidence pleaded by the EFCC, there was no month when Saraki received double payment from the Kwara State Government.

“The only question raised by the witness was that the title of the payment to Saraki varied from month to month.

“It is obvious that the CCT cannot sustain the charges brought against Saraki, hence the need to keep adding more.

“After all in law, all you need is to convict on just one of the charges against an accused to send him to jail.

“If all we are going to be treated to is the excitement from the EFCC witness, then the whole essence of the trial is lost and it should be stopped forthwith.

“Not even with the need for Justice Umar to disqualify himself from the trial with immediate effect.

“He has a bribery case to answer and he should face that squarely,” Baba declared.