The Senate President, Bukola Saraki has rejected the clearance issued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar, exonerating him of complicity in the alleged N10m bribery scam.
Saraki is being prosecuted before the Danladi Umar-led tribunal on 13 counts of false asset declaration.
The Senate President’s lawyer, Mr. Ajibola Oluyede, has filed an application before the CCT asking Umar to disqualify himself from further presiding over the trial because he allegedly remained under EFCC investigation over the bribery allegation.
Attempt by Oluyede to introduce the application before the CCT last Thursday led to a commotion.
The CCT chairman, who on Thursday exhibited a letter issued to him by the EFCC clearing him of any wrongdoing, said the tribunal would not hear the application on the grounds that it was filed by a lawyer (Oluyede), who had not been part of Saraki’s defence team before the CCT.
But speaking through Oluyede in Abuja, Saraki argued that the clearance which the EFCC issued to Umar could not override the recommendation made in 2014 by the Attorney General of the Federation for the CCT chairman’s prosecution.
He alleged that there was no time the EFCC cleared Umar, adding that even if such clearance existed, it was a confirmation of his position that the CCT under Umar, could not ensure fairness in his trial.
Oluyede said it was “only the AGF that possesses the power, under the law, to reverse a decision to prosecute”.
He faulted media reports that the application had been thrown out by the tribunal.
He argued that his client’s application urging Umar to disqualify himself from the trial was still before the tribunal.
He noted that since the prosecution has yet to respond to it, and had not been heard, the tribunal could not have reached any decision on it.
He insisted that he would argue the application before the tribunal when it was ready to be moved.
“We are not saying he (Umar) is guilty. We are saying he is tainted and that he cannot act independently while the EFCC that is investigating him and had indicted him is now prosecuting our client before him. That is why we asked his to excused himself from the trial,” Oluyede said.
Oluyede noted that upon the EFCC report of June 24, 2014, the then AGF directed the then EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, to prosecute Umar and his aide, Ali Gambo, for accepting bribe from an accused person, Rasheed Taiwo.
EFCC said, in the letter to the AGF, that evidence suggested that Umar “might have demanded and collected money from the complainant (Taiwo) through his Personal Assistant. Efforts made to recover the telephone used by Justice Umar proved abortive as he claimed that he had lost the telephone in 2012.
“This has made it impossible to subject it to independent scientific analysis with a view to corroborating the allegation. Justice Umar also admitted that he met privately with the complainant in his chamber at the tribunal. This is a most unethical and highly suspicious conduct on his part,” Lamorde said in the letter.
Oluyede said his client’s application for Umar to disqualify himself from the case, and their further affidavit, detailing these fresh facts would be heard when the tribunal resumes on Wednesday.