By Chris Nomjov
Anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)has revealed that it did not put the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Yakubu Umar, on trial over an allegation of N10 million bribe, because the evidence against him was not weighty and not sufficient to sustain a possible prosecution.
In official documents obtained by PRNigeria, the anti-corruption body claimed that the facts as they are against the CCT Chairman raised just mere suspicious which in law cannot take the place of proof.
The EFCC stated: “The facts as they are now against Justice Umar raised a mere suspicion and will therefore not be sufficient to successfully prosecute for the offence.”
However, prior to this, the EFCC had, in a memorandum forwarded to the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation on March 5, 2015, confirmed that one Ali Gambo Abdullahi, a Personal Assistant to the CCT boss, admitted receiving N1.8 million in 2012 from one Rasheed Taiwo, who was standing trial at the tribunal.
The said Abdullahi was alleged to have used his salary account at Zenith Bank to collect the graft.
In the letter, with Reference No EFCC/EC/SGF/03/56, dated March 5, 2015 and personally signed by the immediate past Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde, Taiwo, the complainant in the bribery saga and a retired Deputy Comptroller General of Customs, was said to have failed to produce the alleged telephone conversations and text messages exchanged by him and Justice Umar.
Taiwo was said to have persistently claimed that he had lost his phone since 2012 and could not trace or recover it.
The EFCC said the telephone of the complainant would have been subjected to independent scientific analysis with a view to corroborating the bribery allegation against the CCT boss.
Justice Umar was however said by EFCC to have admitted meeting the complainant in his chamber at the tribunal.
The EFCC said the meeting was most unethical and a highly suspicious conduct on the part of Umar.
The EFCC letter was entitled: “Investigation Report on N10m bribery allegation against the chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal, Abuja.”
Meanwhile, in another document, the former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), while responding to a request by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, said the CCT chairman cannot be removed from office by a mere fiat of the executive arm of the government.
Adoke, in a letter dated March 25, 2015, told the then SGF that the process of removal of the CCT chairman was cumbersome and tedious because of the uniqueness of the law that backs the appointment.
He explained that both the Presidency and the National Assembly shared the power to remove the CCT boss or any of the tribunal members.
The letter, with reference No. HAGF/SGF/2015/VOL.1/14, reads in part: “I have examined the report of the Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the allegations against the Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), your request for advice on the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act CAP. C.15 LFN 2004 as wish to observe that the procedure for the removal of Chairman, CCT is tedious.
“It is apposite to note that by the provisions of section 22 (3) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, the President can only remove the Chairman or member of the Tribunal upon an address supported by two-thirds majority of each House of the National Assembly praying that he be so removed for inability to discharge the functions of the office in question or for misconduct or for contravention of this Act.
“The implication of the above is that the power of removal is shared between the President and the National Assembly in much the same way as the power of appointment is shared between the President and the National Judicial Institute (NJI).
“The President must therefore garner enough support from both House of the National Assembly to succeed in any bid to remove the Chairman CCT.”
Strong allegations emerged that the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Justice Danladi Umar, had been fingered in a corruption scandal, a few years ago.
It had come to the fore that Justice Umar- who is overseeing the trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki- was indicted of corruption by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The House of Representatives, on Tuesday received two different petitions against Umar, alleging impropriety and abuse of office in the discharge of his duties.
The petitions were presented on the floor of the House by the chairman of the House Committee on Army, Rep. Rima Kwewum, PDP, Taraba State on behalf of Anti-Corruption Network.
One petition urged the House to investigate alleged acts of impropriety purportedly committed by Umar, while the other one requested the House to investigate the office of the Attorney General of the Federation for failing to act on the investigation of the EFCC on Umar.
The CCT Chairman Umar is accused of not following due process mechanism in the discharge of his duties especially in the award of contracts.
He was accused of receiving the sum of N1 million on July 14, 2011 to organise his own wedding, and also approving the payment of N4.2 million to Chinox Global Investment Limited for the “replacement of external security light bulbs.”
A retired Comptroller of Customs, Rasheed Taiwo, had alleged that Umar demanded N10 million bribe from him to quash a case against him.