A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, has faulted the claim by the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar, that he is not a judicial officer and that he is not subject to the disciplinary action of the Federal Judicial Service Commission.
The CCT chairman had said this in response to a petition submitted against him in relation to his handling of the trial of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, on false assets declaraton charges.
Umar, who reportedly snubbed the query issued to him by the FJSC, had argued that he was only answerable to the presidency.
But in a statement on Monday, Falana said Umar was wrong and described his argument as queer.
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’.”
Falana argued that contrary to the claim by Umar, Section 36(1) of the Constitution made CCT independent of the presidency.
Falana said contrary to Umar’s claim, he and other members of the CCT had in 2009 in the case of the Federal Government against Nuhu Ribadu ruled that they were independent of the presidency.
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.”
Falana described Umar’s argument as embarrasing.