The Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar, says he is not a judicial officer and is therefore not answerable to any institution but the Presidency. According to Punch, Umar rejected the authority of the National Judicial Council and the Federal Judicial Service Commission to query or discipline him.
He made his position known while responding to a petition against him by an organisation, the Incorporated Trustees of the Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative.
In a petition signed by Grace Wogor, the group 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.
The FJSC subsequently issued a query to the CCT boss, asking him to respond to the allegations against him. In his response, dated February 6, 2019, and marked CCT/HQ/FJSC/S/01 and addressed to the acting Chairman of the FJSC, Umar 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.”
Umar 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.”
On 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.