The prosecution camp in the trial of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, on Monday engaged in embarrassing ‘drama’ at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The drama came following a disagreement that ensued over who uses the microphone between the prosecution team leader, Aliyu Umar (SAN), and a member of the team, Professor Zainab Duke.
At the resumption of the proceedings in the matter on Monday, Umar, and the lead defence counsel, Okon Efut (SAN), had announced appearances for their teams.
Problem, however, stated when Umar, who is leading the prosecution team informed the tribunal that he was ready for the business of the day which was the adoption of final addresses. To his surprise, a member of his team, Duke, with a paper in her hand, attempted to speak to the bench.
Surprised Umar in his response grabbed the microphone from Duke and shouted on her to sit down.
He shouted, “There cannot be two leading counsel. Sit down. You cannot speak.”
At this point, a sort of drama ensued as Duke, who struggled for the microphone with Umar, sank into her seat and then struggled to stand up.
Eventually standing up, Duke cried to the bench, “My lord I need your protection”.
Intervening, the chairman of the three-man bench, Danladi Umar, demanded calm, reminding the strugglers for microphone that “only one counsel can speak for the team”.
He said, referring to Duke, “Whatever you have to say inform the lead counsel.”
Apparently not done, clearly rebellious, Duke made another attempt to speak, but was cut short by the lead prosecuting counsel, who requested the tribunal to order that she be sent out of the courtroom.
Umar, realizing that his request for Duke to be sent out was not honoured, then asked that her name be struck out from the list of the prosecution’s team.
At this point, his request was granted and Duke walked out as soon as the tribunal announced that her name had been removed from the prosecution’s list.
Outside the courtroom, Duke explained that she had wanted to draw the tribunal’s attention to the similarity between the Onnoghen’s case and a trial that took place in England many years ago.