A non governmental organisation, Registered Trustees of the Mission for Peace and Development Initiative, has dragged the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, Justice Danladi Umar, to court over an allegation that he demanded N10 million bribe to quash criminal case against an accused person standing trial before him.
The plaintiff in the suit lodged before the Federal High Court in Abuja through Chief Mike Ozehkome, SAN said it has documents showing that the CCT chairman, demanded a N10m bribe from a retired Comptroller of Customs, Rasheed Taiwo, to terminate further hearing on a case that was pending against him at the tribunal.
According to the group, out of the total agreed bribe, Justice Umar, through his personal assistant, one Gambo Abdullahi, received the sum of N1.8 million as initial deposit.
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 Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, where he admitted having a private meeting with Taiwo 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”.
Specifically, the group, is praying 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.
Joined as defendants in the suit were Justice Umar, the CCT, EFCC and the Attorney General of the Federation.
To further justify their position that Justice Umar is not “morally and legally fit to try corruption cases”, the group, tendered before the court, a recommendation by the erstwhile AGF Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, while he was still in office, directing the EFCC to prosecute the CCT boss over the said bribery allegation.
The recommendation followed the report of the EFCC after its investigation into the petition that was lodged against Justice Umar by the retired Comptroller of Customs, Taiwo.
Aside recommending Umar’s prosecution, the then AGF, in a letter to former President Goodluck Jonathan, dated May, 7, 2014, with reference number: HAGF/SH/2014/Vol./41, equally okayed the removal of Justice Umar as the CCT chairman owing to the allegation of corruption against him.
Adoke’s letter to ex-President Jonathan read in part: “I am of the humble opinion that the current state of affairs by which the tribunal is unable to sit while the institution is increasingly diminished by the pall of suspicion, should not be allowed to fester, as it will expose the institution to public ridicule and undermine this administration’s efforts to combat corruption.
“In the light of the foregoing therefore, Your Excellency may wish to initiate the necessary steps for the removal of the chairman.”