On the 31st of March, 2021, one of my lawyers, Samuel Ihensekhien Jnr drew my attention to a “display of naked power” by the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar, who was seen in a viral video with his security detail, assaulting a citizen, Clement Sagwak, at Banex Plaza, in Wuse Abuja.
The organisation identified the victim to be a 22-year-old worker of Jul Reliable Guards Services Limited posted as a security guard to the Plaza.
The viral video of the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Mr Danladi Umar, and his aides, assaulting Mr. Sagwak, requires very little annotation. It illustrates an unambiguous example of lawlessness, arrogant disdain for public morality and the violation of rights and dignity of a private citizen. It reveals in unmistakable terms, the culture of impunity in our country.
The subsequent incompetent and poorly worded statement by the CCT’S spokesman, Ibraheem Alhasssan and a follow-up interview by Mr Umar himself, which attempted to pull the wool over the eyes of Nigerians, offer neither exculpation nor mitigation for what must be considered in any decent society, gross misconduct and potentially, criminal malfeasance.
The subsequent harassment of Mr Sagwak and the arrest and detention, without charge of Mr. Peter Onyiuke, a phone repairer at the Banex Plaza, Abuja by the Nigeria Police, lends further confirmation to the culture of impunity, arrogant misconduct and misuse of state power.
The action of Danladi Umar was challenged by my team of lawyers including other human rights lawyers to ensure we get justice for Mr Sagwak. One of those efforts was a petition to the Nigerian Senate to investigate Mr. Danladi Umar.
While the petition was entertained by the Senate, Mr. Umar was hoping to benefit from the Nigerian system when he filed for a motion challenging the powers of the Senate to investigate him.
A Federal High Court in Abuja says the Nigerian Senate has the power to investigate Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar.
Delivering Judgement on Tuesday, Justice Inyang Ekwo, said the CCT boss failed to display high moral public standards by his conduct and with the Code of Conduct Bureau being a product of an Act ratified by the National Assembly, it, therefore, has powers to investigate his conduct.
The court subsequently dismissed the suit by Mr Umar seeking to stop his investigation by the Senate Committee Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, for lacking in merit.
While I sincerely commend the Judiciary on this judgement, the Senate must not be allowed to betray Mr Sagwak and majority of upright Nigerians.
Like Abba Kyari like Danladi. We have a lot of Abba Kyaris in all the institutions. Men are the institutions in Nigeria, which is very wrong. What we need now are institutions that are working. Government officials shouldn’t be above the law irrespective of religion, tribe or colour.
While they have done little to address some of the challenges facing Nigeria, the Nigerian Senate must rise to the occasion this time around to defend a commoner like Sagwak by helping to discipline Mr Danladi Umar accordingly.
Mr Umar had in the video clearly demonstrated an inability to uphold the high standards, in personal and public conduct, expected of judicial officers, which his office by the requirement of the law demand of others. His conduct has desecrated the office of the Chairman of CCT and has undermined public confidence in the ability of the Tribunal to hold public officials accountable for their misconduct. His position is therefore no longer tenable. He should resign his position immediately or be removed through the provisions enshrined in the Constitution lest the stench of his personal misconduct attract opprobrium to one of the hallowed pillars of governance.
In addition, Mr Umar should be properly investigated for possible criminal prosecution since assault remains a criminal offence under our laws.
Just like we saw during the #EndSARs protest and the attempt by those in authority to shield DCP Abba Kyari, this culture of impunity and arrogant disdain for the ordinary citizen and misuse of state power must stop. One Love!
Chief Patrick Osagie Eholor is the Global President of One Love Foundation.