IN February 2018, the incumbent Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo, as an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, prosecutor, had filed a bribery and judicial racketeering case against Justice Danladi Umar, Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal. He was accused of receiving N1.8 million out of alleged N10 million he demanded from one Rasheed Taiwo in 2012.
However, after the CCT Chairman’s role in the code of conduct cases against former Senate President, Bukola Saraki and former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, withdrew Keyamo’s case against Umar for “lack of merit”. The case was subsequently struck out by Justice Yusuf Halilu of the Abuja High Court.
The name of Danladi Umar resurfaced for the wrong reasons once again on March 29, 2021. He was seen in a viral video assaulting a 22-year-old security guard, Clement Sargwak, whose only offence was that he tried to do his job – ensure that Umar’s car was properly parked at the Banex Plaza parking lot in Abuja.
The Tribunal was later to issue a statement accusing Sargwak of threatening Umar and being “rude”. The statement described the people who tried to save Sargwak from his highly-placed physical assailant as “Biafra boys”.
Contrary to expectations, those who hoped that the incident would as usual, die down after the initial fuss, were mistaken. Several steps are being taken by concerned rights groups to bring him to justice. For instance, Sargwak’s legal counsel, Samuel Ihensekhien, Esq, has petitioned the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, seeking an indictment of Umar for aggravated physical assault, cybercrime, racism and distribution of xenophobic material.
Also, the first Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, John Aikpokpo Martins, has petitioned Umar at the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Council, LPPC, for violating professional conduct and putting the legal profession into public ridicule. A number of civil society groups have also called for action against Umar to save the sanctity of the office he occupies.
We call on these statutory bodies to move with dispatch and prove that Nigeria still has the capacity to give justice to a lowly-placed citizen like Sargwak.
Umar must account for his cynical and hateful ethnic profiling of Nigerians who expressed their outrage at his shameful public misconduct. Allowing Umar to, once again, escape justice makes him a “sacred cow”. That is unacceptable.