By Eric Elezuo
On Monday, January 14, 2019, Mr. Danladi Yakubu Umar, will be presiding over the false asset declaration case and other sundry issues levelled against the Chief Judge of Nigeria, Mr. Walter Onnoghen, in what many has described as a rape of the judiciary.
Mr. Umar, who himself has a corruption case dangling over his head, will be heading the panel of three judges on this assignment.
Public opinion has however, not only frowned at the executive muscling of the other arms of government, but insinuated that it is improper for an officer with a huge corruption case to preside over corruption related matters.
Umar is on EFCC’s administrative bail.
On February 2, 2018, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), through a private lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN ), who is now the official spokesperson of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), filed bribery charges against the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) chairman, Mr. Danladi Umar, before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The prosecution in the case marked, CR / 109/18, accused Umar of demanding N10 million as favour from a defendant standing trial before the CCT, Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo, in 2012.
The anti- corruption agency accused Umar of receiving, through his personal assistant, Alhaji Gambo Abdullahi, the sum of N1.8 million out of the N10m demanded from Taiwo in the same year.
The offences were said to be contrary to Section 12 (1 )(a ) & (b) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2003. Even as the chairman was arraigned on March 16, the case has remained inclusive.
Consequently, a group, The Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International filed a suit requesting the Federal High Court to declare that the CCT, which Umar leads, “was established to enforce the code of conduct for public officers and preside over cases of those accused and charged with failing to maintain a high standard of morality in the conduct of government business and for having failed to conform to the highest standard of public morality and accountability,” it therefore, sought an order, “directing /compelling the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr. Danladi Yakubu Umar, who has put himself in a situation where his personal interest conflicts with his official duty to immediately vacate the office and cease to act as the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal having been accused and charged to court in charge number CR / 109/18 at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”
In its report, the EFCC said, “There are indications that the Tribunal Chairman (Mr. Umar) might have demanded and collected money from the complainant through his said Personal Assistant. However, efforts to recover the telephone handset used by Justice Umar proved abortive as he claimed he lost the phone in 2012.
“This has made it impossible to subject it to independent analysis with a view to corroborating the allegation. In the same vein, the complainant could not also make available his telephone set on the grounds that he had lost it.”
This also died a natural death.
While undergoing trial at the mercy of Umar, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki filed a lawsuit seeking for the CCT chairman to be excused from the trial on asset declaration, because the judge has been on administrative bail with EFCC for allegedly receiving bribe.
The EFCC had earlier dropped charges against Danladi Umar, but some very incriminating documents emerged later on, which tends to substantiate the Senate president’s case against Mr Umar. At this, Umar reportedly went berserk in court, and ordered Saraki’s lawyer arrested. It appeared that from several independent sources, Danladi Umar was in fact guilty of accepting bribes and is tainted. (Refer to Naij.com’s publication https://www.legit.ng/806354-cct-vs-saraki-controversy-see-evidences-cct-chairman-photos.html)
But that passed and the chairman resumed his duties as if nothing was amiss.