By Emma Peters
A disagreement broke out in the camp of the prosecution in the trial of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, as the proceedings resumed on Monday.
The disagreement started after the prosecution led by Mr. Aliyu Umar (SAN), and the defence led by Mr. Okon Efut (SAN), announced appearances for their teams.
As Umar informed the tribunal that he was ready for the business of the day which was the adoption of final addresses, a member of his team, Prof. Zainab Duke, attempted to speak to the bench.
With a paper in her hand, Duke tried to speak into the microphone but Umar grabbed the microphone and shouted on her to sit down.
“There cannot be two leading counsel. Sit down. You cannot speak,” Umar shouted.
Struggling to stand up after she sank to her seat in the middle of a struggle for the microphone with Umar,
Duke told the bench, “my lord I need your protection”.
Responding, the Chairman of the three-man bench, Danladi Umar, urged calm, and restated the lead prosecuting counsel’s point, saying, “only one counsel can speak for the team”.
“Whatever you have to say, inform the lead counsel,” the tribunal chairman said.
Defiant, Duke attempted to speak again, but she was cut short by the lead prosecuting counsel, who requested the tribunal to order that she be sent out of the courtroom.
When he realised, his request was not immediately granted, he requested that Duke’s name is struck out from the list of the prosecution’s team.
His request was granted by the tribunal and Duke walked out immediately it was ruled that her name had been removed from the prosecution’s list.
Speaking outside, the courtroom, she said she only wanted to draw the tribunal’s attention to the similarity between the Onnoghen’s trial and a case that took place in England many years ago.