Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Chairman Justice Danladi Umar may face a fresh probe by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over some allegations, The Nation learnt yesterday. The CCT acquitted Senate President Bukola Saraki of a false assets declaration charge on Wednesday. The allegations against Umar include a N10million bribe said to have been collected by him by his Personal Assistant, Ali Gambo Abdullahi.
The discovery of fresh clues on Umar’s conduct is said to have sparked the planned probe. But, a top CCT official said the EFCC had on February 23, 2015 andApril 20, 2016 cleared Umar of the alleged N10million bribe. A source, who hinted of the planned probe, said Umar may soon be invited for questioning. The highly-placed source said: “The anti-graft agency is already probing some allegations against the CCT chairman, including the alleged collection of a N10million bribe and award of contracts. Some of these allegations were actually tabled before the Senate and the House of Representatives. “The initial plan was to conduct the investigation during the trial of the Senate President. But the EFCC decided to stay action in order not to disrupt the judicial process. “With the trial over, we are going to interview Justice Umar on these allegations. The details include the payment of N1million in July 2011 from the coffers of the CCT to sponsor his wedding; alleged spending of N15.2million to purchase a Toyota Prado Jeep ‘without following due process; award of contracts for supply of office furniture and fittings in the sum of N11.3million. “The contracts were reportedly executed by a ‘supposedly engineering company and not a furniture or supply company.’ “Other allegations are alleged payment of N4. 2million for the “purchase of welfare items” in a contract executed by a private individual and another N4.2 million for the procurement of external light bulbs”.
On the allegation against the judge by an online medium, the source said: “We will look at all clues to ascertain whether they are true or not. ”But the planned investigation generating heat at the tribunal because the EFCC cleared of the alleged N10million bribe. A source at the tribunal said: “We suspect foul play because the EFCC cleared Justice Umar in 2015 and 2016 of any wrong doing. This latest probe may be the aftermath of the judgment of the tribunal which discharged and acquitted the Senate President. “I think the EFCC is after a proxy war. The judge is a fair-minded person who has defied pressure to do his job. “While the trial of Saraki lasted, he has persistently said he will discharge his duties without fear or favour because he will account to God one day.
The EFCC should leave this judge alone. Even until the judgement was delivered, Saraki and his legal team were kept on the edge. This is to show you the level of his fairness. “The CCT chairman is not the accounting officer of the tribunal contrary to insinuations. He does not award contracts. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives investigated the CCT chairman on all these allegations and nothing came out of the probe. ”The EFCC, in a letter to the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim absolved Umar of bribery allegation. The letter signed by its ex-chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde said: “We refer to your letter ref. No. SGF.19./S.24/11/451 dated 23rd February 2015 on the above mentioned case reported by one Mr. Rasheed Taiwo (DCG rtd) of 6AB Milverton Road, Lagos against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar and his Personal Assistant, one Gambo Abdullahi. “The complainant who is facing charges at the Code of Conduct Tribunal alleged that Justice Umar made direct demand for the sum of N10 million to quash the charges sometimes in 2012. “He disclosed that he was compelled to pay the sum of N1.8 million after persistent inundation with phone calls from Justice Umar, who received the bribe through the Zenith Bank account of one Ali Gambo Abdullahi, his personal Assistant in December, 2012. “Investigation was extended to one Hon. Justice G.A Oguntade (Rtd) who confirmed that the complainant informed him in 2012 of the issues he had at the Tribunal and the demand being made by Justice Umar. He disclosed that Justice Umar denied the allegation when he called him. “There are indications that the Tribunal Chairman might have demanded and collected money from the complainant through his said Personal Assistant. “However, efforts made to recover the telephone handset 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. “In the same vein, the complainant could also not make available his telephone set for analysis on the grounds that he had lost it.
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. ”There is a prima facie evidence to however prosecute the Personal Assistant, Abdullahi, who could offer no coherent excuse for receiving N1.8million into his salary account from Taiwo, who is an accused person standing trial at the tribunal. “The full money has been recoveredfrom him in May 2014 and aptly registered as exhibit. The fact that he made two contradictory statements on the reason he was paid the money, is clearly an attempt to cover up on the reason the money was paid to him. He has accordingly been charged to court in charge no. CR/137/2015 pending at the High Court of FCT, Abuja. “However the facts as they are now against Justice Umar raised a mere suspicion and will therefore not be sufficient to successfully prosecute him for the offence. “Above is submitted for the information of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, please.”Also, the Secretary to EFCC, Mr. Emamnuel Adegboyega Aremo, in another letter to the SGF on April 20, 2016 exonerated Justice Danladi of corrupt practices.
The letter said: “We will like to reiterate the Commission’s position in regard to this matter as earlier communicated to you and state thatthe allegations leveled against Justice Umar were mere suspicionsand consequently insufficient to successfully prosecute the offence.”