Foremost human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, has lashed out at the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Danladi Umar, after claiming he answers to the presidency and no other judicial body.
The CCT chairman had reportedly ignored a query by the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) over his involvement in the trial of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Umar ignored the query on grounds that he was not subjected to directives from the commission.
But Falana described the claim by the CCT chairman as embarrassing, referring to the case between the federal government and former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu in 2009.
Falana recalled that the court ruled that CCT was independent of the presidency according to Section 36(1) of the Constitution.
He said, “With respect, the Chairman and members of the Code of Conduct Tribunal are recognised as judicial officers by the Constitution.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Tribunal Chairman shall ‘be a person who has held or is qualified to hold office as a judge of a superior court of record in Nigeria’.”
He said, “As the defendant’s counsel, we challenged the competence of the tribunal to try our client as it was not independent of the Presidency, whose Attorney General was the prosecutor.
“In dismissing the objection the tribunal made it abundantly clear that it was independent of the presidency. However, the tribunal severed its illegal relationship with the Presidency while the then Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Mohamned Adoke (SAN), withdrew the charge.
“Curiously, Justice Danladi Umar who was a member of the tribunal at the material time has turned around to reduce himself to a staff in the Presidency.
“It is regrettable to note that a tribunal established by the constitution, as an independent juridical organ of the federation, has conveniently reduced itself to an appendage of the presidency.”