The trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki on a 13-count charge of false assets declaration assumed a religious coloration for a few minutes on Monday with the Quran,the Bible and Moses making incursions.
The descent into religion began when Mr. Umar shortly after the court resumed from a short adjournment informed the defence team that their request for day to day records of the court proceedings can no longer be entertained as it is becoming too burdensome on the registry of the Tribunal.
Mr. Umar also said asking the court to produce the day to day records of proceedings is not in accordance with the rule of court.
“We are not going to abide by notice of proceedings day by day. We are not bound to give you records of proceedings day by day,” said Mr Umar. He added that the defence can only demand for the records of the court if they are going on an appeal.
But he had hardly finished when Kanu Agabi, the lead defence counsel rose up in protest. “My Lord, the Quran said it is not good anytime you raise up your hand, it comes down empty,” Kanu, a Pentecostal Christian said.
“Everyday, we raised our hands to you, we returned empty,” the Senior Advocate of Nigeria said implying that the Chairman of the Tribunal always turned down the request of the defence team.
Mr. Umar, a Muslim quickly interjected that he has been conducting proceedings at the Tribunal in a very fair manner.
And to also justify his action, Mr. Umar said before God, he will weigh plausibility of any request before granting it and even if the request will be granted it may not be immediate.
To back up his claims, he also made allusion to the Bible, pointing out that when Moses asked God to destroy Pharaoh, the request was granted but it took 40 years for it to manifest.
He added that producing the day to day records of proceedings will be too burdensome as it will mean the court registry staff would have to wait behind after the court closes at 6 pm, especially now that the trial will be conducted on a day to day basis to type it.
“At times you finish by 5 pm and you expect the registry to wait and type, it is too burdensome,” he said.
Paul Usoro, SAN a member of the defence team further tried to persuade Mr Umar to change his mind.
Usoro said it is not true that the court records can only be applied for when the parties are going on an appeal. “This is a major trial and it is important that the records are available to the defence,” Usoro said.
The Chairman stuck to his gun, insisting that it will not be possible to provide daily records to the defence team if the trial is being done day by day.
But the defence said they are not the ones that imposed the day to day rule.
But Justice Umar insisted that the court will make day to day the records of the court available and that the defence can apply for it after a week.