A mild drama took place at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, on Tuesday as a counsel to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Paul Erokoro lambasted Federal Government’s lawyer for insisting that only one counsel should be allowed to cross examine a witness. Saraki is standing trial on a 16-count charge of false assets declaration.
Erokoro said this while reacting to the submission of Federal Government’s lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, who condemned the trend where more than one defence lawyer keep cross-examining a particular witness.
Since the cross-examination of the principal witness, Michael Wetkas, who is an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, two different defence counsels have cross examined the witness, this the prosecution frowns at.
Jacobs contended that only the lead defence, counsel, Kanu Agabi, SAN, is bound to conclude cross examination which he started, adding that a situation where other lawyers in a team cross examines a single witness is unacceptable.
“This will make the proceedings endless, if one counsel is called he should conclude it.”
“Only the lead counsel can speak on behalf of the defendant,” Jacobs said.
But contending with the prosecution’s submission, Paul Orokoro, SAN, said the defendant has the right to be represented by as many counsels as possible. '
This brought about wild cheers from people seated in the tribunal hall.
Orokoro said, “There is no law backing my learned friend’s submission, a counsel is entitled to as many lawyers as possible.
“The defence cannot always ask for an adjournment because one counsel is tired.”
Orokoro argued that the defence will take its time to cross examine the witness based on the evidence presented before the tribunal.
“The evidence presented before the tribunal is over 1,500 in pages and we are going take our time to do what is right.
“The prosecution had just succeeded in wasting the time of the tribunal,” Erokoro asserted.
Meanwhile, the proceedings continues…