The Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar has said that he is not answerable to any institution but the Presidency since he’s not a judicial officer.
Umar made this statement at the weekend while responding to a petition against him by an organisation, the Incorporated Trustees of the Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative, he rejected the authority of the National Judicial Council and the Federal Judicial Service Commission.
The group had in a petition signed by Grace Wogor, asked the commission to sanction Umar for abusing court processes and granting an ex parte order removing the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, when the CJN had not yet been convicted.
Subsequently, the CCT boss was asked to respond to the allegations against him.
But rather than comply, Umar added fuel to fire by his response, dated February 6, 2019, and marked CCT/HQ/FJSC/S/01 and addressed to the acting Chairman of the FJSC, he said he was not answerable to any institution but the Presidency.
“With regard to the prayer of the petitioner for an appropriate sanction against the chairman, it is important to note that the chairman and members of the tribunal, not being judicial officers, are not constitutionally subject to any disciplinary proceedings by either the National Judicial Council or the Federal Judicial Service Commission but the Presidency.”
He also explained that at the time of inauguration, members of the CCT only take official oaths and not judicial oaths.
The petitioner alleged that judicial oaths were breached and that the National Judicial Council should consider appropriate sanctions. It is to be noted that the chairman and members of the Code of Conduct Tribunal are not judicial officers.
“This is predicated on the fact that the chairman and members of the tribunal, during swearing-in, only subscribe to official oaths and not judicial oaths. Therefore, not being a judicial officer, I did not subscribe to judicial oaths as alleged.”
Pointing out why he granted the ex parte order, Umar said he did so because it was within his power but added that he could not speak further since the matter was before the Court of Appeal and commenting on it would be subjudice.
He attached a letter dated May 18, 2015, with reference number NJC/CIR/HOC/1/74, which was signed by the then CJN and Chairman of the NJC, Justice Mahmud Mohammed.
In the letter, he urged members of the CCT to stop referring to themselves as justices as they were not judges.
“From the foregoing provisions, no member, including the chairman of the CCT on appointment, is a judicial officer as defined in Section 318 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended unless he or she has held office as a judge of the superior court of record in Nigeria.”, the letter reads,