Again, petitioner stalls Reps probe of CCT judge over alleged corruption
Again, officials of the Anti Corruption Network (ACN) have stalled a House of Representatives investigative hearing probing series of allegations bordering on corrupt practices levelled against the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar.
At the start of the hearing last week, the ACN’s Executive Secretary, Ajulo Ajulo as well as the Justice Minister and Attorney general of the federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami failed to show up to enable the Mr. Nkem Abonta-led House committee on Public petition to get down to work to authenticate the allegation.
Yesterday, Mr. Olusegun Abeoran, who stood in for ACN failed to testify before the lawmakers on the excuse that the ACN’s brief was not ready, adding: “We are asking for extension of time for the purpose that our brief is not ready. We will plead for one week to forward it to the committee.” But, Nkem-Abonta who frowned at the excuses offered noted that Justice Umar was a busy personality whose time must not be wasted.
Warning that the committee would not condone a situation whereby the judge was made to appear twice for a hearing, the lawmaker noted: “We take exceptions to your attitude. Justice delayed is justice denied. The CCT chairman has come here twice. Last week, you (petitioners) were not here but he was here. “Now, you are telling us that you are not ready. Ordinarily, we would have considered this petition abandoned. But, to avoid being accused of something else, the committee will oblige you a shift in date to Tuesday, December 15. If by the next date you are still not ready, this petition will be abandoned.”
When Umar was asked whether he had anything to say, the judge replied that the petition should be abandoned for “lack of seriousness” on the part of the petitioners.
Continuing, he noted: “We have tremendous respect for this committee; that is why we have been coming. We have serious work to do in the office; there are judgments to write and there are other administrative duties. Mr. Chairman, in our view, this petition should be deemed abandoned.”
However, he was overruled by the committee chief who argued that the petitioner should still be availed one more last chance in the interest of equity and fairness. Among the allegations in the network’s petition to the House was that Umar paid N1m in July 2011 from the coffers of the CCT to sponsor his own wedding.
Umar was also alleged to have spent N15.2m to purchase a Toyota Prado Jeep “without following due process.” In March 2011, Umar was said to have awarded contracts for the supply of office furniture and fittings in the sum of N11.3m.
The contracts were reportedly executed by a “supposedly engineering company and not a furniture or supply company.” He also allegedly paid N4. 2m for “purchase of welfare items” in a contract executed by a private individual. The petitioners described another N4.2m for the procurement of external light bulbs as “entirely fictitious contract.” Other figures listed against Umar by the petitioners ranged from N1.5m to N3.7m.