The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission did not put the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Mr. Justice Danladi Yakubu Umar on trial over an allegation of N10m bribery because the evidence against him was not weighty and not sufficient to sustain a possible prosecution.
In official documents obtained by PRNigeria, the anti-graft 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. It states that: “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.”
In a memorandum forwarded to the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), on March 5, 2015, the EFCC however confirmed that one Ali Gambo Abdullahi, a Personal Assistant to the CCT boss admitted receiving N1.8m in 2012 from one Rasheed Taiwo 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 a Reference No EFCC/EC/SGF/03/56 (dated March 5, 2015) and personally signed by the immediate past Executive Chairman of EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, the complainant in the bribery saga, Mr. Rasheed Taiwo, 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.
The Former Customs Chief was said to have persistently claimed that he had lost his phone since 2012 and could not trace or recover it.
EFCC said that 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 and that meeting was most unethical and highly suspicious conduct on the part of the chairman.
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 Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke SAN while responding to a request by the then Secretary General of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, said that the CCT chairman cannot be removed from by a mere fiat of the executive arm of the government.
Adoke in a letter dated march 25, 2015 told the SGF that the process of removal of CCT chairman was cumbersome and tedious because of the uniqueness of the law that back the appointment.
The senior advocate of Nigeria explained that both of 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 read 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.”