Why CCT Boss Should Resign—HURIWA

By Emmanuel Onwubiko

May we remind you that HURIWA is a registered credi­ble civil society platform made up essentially of media work­ers, creative writers, and good governance investigators/re­searchers. We are aware of our sacred constitutional duty un­der Section 22 of the constitu­tion of the federal republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended) as the consciences of the nation to speak out in the most unambig­uous way to demand that the crusade against all corrupt practices and abuse of power are confronted and sufficient­ly defeated so Nigeria can de­rive the benefit of good gover­nance and respect for the rule of law and human rights.

Having given that pertinent back-ground, let me clarify. We wrote to Danladi Umar, the CCT boss, with deep con­viction as genuine patriots and human rights campaigners asking him to resign as chair­man of that agency. This is because of his official indict­ment on allegation of corrup­tion by the Economic and Fi­nancial Crimes Commission, EFCC, following his investi­gation and that of his Person­al Assistant Ali Gambo Abdul­lahi over alleged N10 million extortion.

You will also recall that the primary responsibility of the Nigeria state is the abolition of corruption as clearly en­shrined in Section 15 (5) of the Constitution of the Fed­eral Republic of Nigeria. The current government as you in the media know very well has made profound pronounce­ments of its commitment to wage unrelenting law-based crusade against corruption and abuse of office. For the avoidance of doubt, I will re­produce the exact wording of the operative constitution: "The state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power".

Recall that the Fifth Schedule, Part 1, Article One which is the code of conduct for public of­ficers in generic terms spec­ified that, "A public officer shall not put himself in a po­sition where his personal in­terest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities".

In consonance with this fact, HURIWA states that Danladi Umar is still on an adminis­tration bail in the sum of N5 million from the EFCC in the matter of "A case of conspir­acy, bribery, abuse of office and money laundering" CR/NO: 035/2013 in a complaint filed by one Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo. We have also accessed a report written by the Attor­ney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to the former President Goodluck Jonathan on the 12th of may 2014 recommending his re­moval from office.

As a member of the judicia­ry which is the custodian of our laws, it is only lawful and respectful that he resigns from his exalted position to save the nation and judiciary from this monumental opprobrium. He who goes to equity must do so with clean hands, devoid of al­legations of fraud.

The nation's Judi­ciary is at this time of our his­tory passing through a very difficult phase because of the groundswell of allegations of corruption involving several judicial officers and it is only proper that he resigns within 24 hours from his high office as the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal. He should be informed that we in the civ­il society community are pre­pared to use all constitution­al and legal means to ensure that he will not continue to function as the chairman of the code of conduct tribunal should he fail to heed our ad­vice.

The Constitution in section 6 (1) states as follows: "The ju­dicial powers of the federation shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, be­ing court established for the federation". Besides, the Code of Conduct Tribunal is so piv­otal to the fight against corrup­tion which made the framers of our constitution to enshrine a provision in the Fifth Schedule for its powers and functions. You would therefore agree with us that there is no way a minis­ter in the temple of justice can adjudicate over matters of crime when he is also recommended to stand trial and, or has allega­tion of bribery dangling on his neck like the proverbial Sword of Damocles.

Our previous and current interventions and track record are open to Nigerians to check out. We are for Nigeria, not for individuals and we in­sist that the right legal and con­stitutional things must be done. Only Nigerians can save Nige­ria. It's about time we got it right.

To change Nigeria also requires that we transform its anti-cor­ruption management agencies. If sufficient evi­dences of impunity and corrup­tion are established against any of them, requisite actions must follow. First, let's start with the CCT boss. He must resign and make way for an unbiased and totally untainted person is made the chairman of CCT. Anything less than this is a brazen attempt to institutionalize impunity. The principal persons in the executive arm of government must not be allowed to use any of the institutions to achieve a narrow, partisan objective of unseating the Senate President simply because he is not the choice of the powerful godfathers of APC.

The AGF is wrong to have stated that he never instituted charges against CCTchairman Mr. Danladi Umar because in his word there is little evidence to prosecute it. We ask the AGF: Why pay the role of a judge? Is it in the place of AGF to determine whether the evidence before him is insufficient or not if there is no hidden political agenda? By the way, why does government institute charges against petty thieves of say loaves of bread but in this instance of alleged N10 million bribery the AGF is pretending no to have sufficient evidence?

Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
National Coordinator.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arraigned Ali Gambo Abdullahi, the personal assistant to the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, Justice Danladi Umar, before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.

EFCC operatives Abdullahi was docked before Justice Chizoba Orji on a two-count criminal charge bordering on his alleged complicity in a N10 million bribery scandal involving the CCT chairman.

He was accused of giving false information to EFCC investigators with regards to about N1.8 million he collected from retired Comptroller of Customs, Mr. Rasheed Taiwo Owolabi, who is standing trial before the CCT over alleged false declaration of assets.

Owolabi had accused Justice Umar of demanding N10 million from him to influence the outcome of the charge which was entered against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB. Owolabi said he had in furtherance of the arrangement, paid the sum of N1.8 million to the tribunal Chairman through his P.A, Abdullahi, via Zenith Bank account No. 1002849471.

Nevertheless, Abdullahi, in a statement he made before the EFCC, maintained that Owolabi gave him the N1.8 milion to settle his father’s medical bills.

However, the EFCC, in the charge, accused Abdullahi who was said to have initially admitted that he collected the money as a proxy, of giving inconsistent statements pertaining to the actual reason behind the money he collected from Owolabi.

Specifically, the two count charge the anti-graft agency preferred against him read: “That you Ali Gambo Abdullahi, sometimes in August 2013 at Abuja within the Judicial division of the court, did made a statement to one Abdulmajeed Ibrahim, a detective with the EFCC while in the course of the exercise of the duty of his office that the sum of N1.8 million paid into your Zenith Bank Account Nuumber 1002849471 on December 12, 2012, by one Rasheed Owolabi, was a payment made to assist you to settle your father’s hospital bill which statement you knew to be untrue, and thereby committedan offence contrary to section 39(2)(a) of the EFCC Act. 2004 and punishable under Section (39) (2) (b) of the same act.

Meanwhile, the accused person pleaded not guilty to the charge, even as the court adjourned trial on the matter till March 15. It will be recalled that a non governmental organisation under the platform of the Registered Trustees of the Mission for Peace and Development Initiative, had earlier dragged Justice Umar before the Federal High Court in Abuja over the allegation.

The group, in the suit they filed through their lawyer Chief Mike Ozehkome, SAN, said it has documents showing that the CCT chairman actually demanded bribe to terminate the charge against Owolabi. Among exhibits the group attached to the suit included the photocopy of a cheque with which the N1.8m was allegedly paid to Justice Umar through his proxy, a copy of the statement the CCT chairman made before the EFCC, where he admitted having a private meeting with Mr. Owolabi in his office, as well as the statement of his P.A, Abdullahi.

Other documents the plaintiff also adduced before the court were a copy of the application with which Justice Umar was granted administrative bail by the anti-graft agency, and a letter that was forwarded to former President Goodluck Jonathan by two other members of the tribunal, Justices Robert Odu and W. Agwaza Atedze, wherein they called for a thorough investigation into the bribery scandal so as \’to save the CCT from embarrassment’.

The group prayed the high court for an order compelling Justice Umar to vacate his position as the CCT chairman on the ground that he is not fit and proper to superintend over the criminal prosecution of any Nigerian, with himself having a criminal case hanging on his neck.