The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has finally appeared before the Code of Conduct Tribunal where he is being charged for alleged false declaration of assets.
Mr. Saraki failed to appear before the tribunal on Friday, and again on Monday, despite an arrest warrant issued against him.
He faces a 13-count charge bordering on corruption and false assets declaration.
Mr. Saraki said Monday that he would appear before the tribunal, after the Court of Appeal in Abuja dismissed his application for a stay of execution.
He arrived at the tribunal at about 9.320 a.m, accompanied by deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and other senators.
The tribunal has disallowed live broadcast of its proceedings. But you can follow highlights of the session below.
UPDATE 1: The Chairman of the Tribunal came into the courtroom at 10.32 a.m, and apologised for the delay in the commencement of proceeding. He said the tribunal was sorting out some matters.
UPDATE 2: Officials of the Tribunal seems desperate to stop the live coverage of this trial. Shortly before the Senate President arrived, an unnamed member of the Tribunal beckoned on TVC (television station) to stop the live coverage. And for over 10 minutes after, there was power cut at the chamber.
-The light was still out when Senate President arrives. But the light is still out.
-The light is back.
– Tribunal announces it was banning live coverage of proceedings
UPDATE 3: Argument ensues as to where Saraki should be seated
UPDATE 4: Prosecutor Rotimi Jacob says the business of the day is for the accused person to take his plea
UPDATE 5: Prosecution wants the Senate President to be seated at the dock
Mr. Saraki’s counsel, J.B. Daudu, says Tribunal is not a court to try criminal cases
Tribunal Chairman, Danladi Umar, insists Mr. Saraki must take his plea.
UPDATE 6: [11:16] Argument still ongoing with Mr. Saraki’s lead counsel saying that according to paragraph 18, Subsection 1 of the 5th Schedule of the 1999 Constitution and that the case is either not criminal in nature or that the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to hear it.
UPDATE 7: The prosecution counsel argued however that going by Section 2 of the Administration of Justice Act, 2015, the matter can be heard since the Tribunal was set up by An act of the National Assembly. The Tribunal chairman is currently analysing both points
UPDATE 8: The Tribunal ruled that the trial is criminal in nature. “I hold that the trial before the tribunal is purely criminal,” Chairman Danladi Umar said. He further ruled that the accused enter go ahead to take his plea.
UPDATE 9: Saraki goes to the dock. The 13-count charge of corruption levelled against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau being read to him.
UPDATE 10: Saraki is asked to plead either guilty or not guilty.
UPDATE 11: Saraki responds: “I believe that I am here as the Senate president, to indicate my respect for the Tribunal. I am puzzled why I am being compelled. He said he is not guilty.