By Emeka Ejere
The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has insisted that Justice Danladi Umar remains its chairman in the prosecution of public officers who contravene asset declaration laws in the country, as mandated by the Federal Government and the Nigerian Constitution.
The tribunal’s Head of Press and Public Relations, Mr Ibraheem Alhassan, made the clarification during an interview with PRNigeria in Abuja.
According to a statement from the media outfit on Thursday, Justice Umar has fixed June 20 and 21 for the trial of public officers from Bauchi and Kwara states, for allegedly violating various provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.
Alhassan, whose clarification was prompted by insinuations in the social media, disclosed that the CCT chairman had promised that all the forthcoming cases in Kwara and Bauchi State would be treated dispassionately to ensure that justice was done.
The supposed defaulters to be arraigned for prosecution by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) are mostly political appointees and civil servants.
The CCT spokesman, however, urged Nigerians to disregard the insinuations concerning the status of Justice Umar in the Tribunal.
He stated that contrary to the reports, the position of the justice and members of the Tribunal are guaranteed by the Constitution.
Meanwhile, the media outfit had interviewed a legal practitioner, Mr Yunus Abdulsalam, who explained that the CCT was established by Section 15(1) of the Fifth Schedule, of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Mr Abdulsalam said, “By virtue of the further provisions in Section 15, the Chairman of the tribunal must be qualified to hold office as a judge of a superior court in Nigeria. Also, the Chairman and other two members are appointed by the President on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council.”
“The Chairman’s tenure of office ends when attaining the age of 70 and the Chairman cannot be removed by the President except upon an address supported by two-thirds majority of each House of the National Assembly, which means the Senate and House of Representatives praying that he be so removed for inability to discharge the functions of the office,” he added.
The lawyer stressed further that Section 17 clearly stated that anyone holding the office of chairman or member of the CCT should vacate the office when attaining the age of 70.
He said if anybody who held office as chairman or member of the Tribunal for a period of 10 years or more retires at 70, such person would be entitled to a life pension.
Abdulsalam argued that such person cannot be removed from office before the retiring age except in accordance with the provisions of the act.
He, however, stated that, “According to section 18, where the Code of Conduct Tribunal finds a public officer guilty of contravening any of the provisions of the Code of conduct for public officers, such public officer may be directed to vacate the office or seat in any legislative house as the case may be, or, be disqualified from membership of a legislative house and from holding any public office for a period of 10 years or seizure and forfeiture to the state of any property acquired in abuse or corruption of office.”
The lawyer noted that the penalties are without prejudice to any penalty that may be given by a court in cases where the offence was of a criminal nature.
He maintained that CCT has jurisdiction over public officers at all tiers and arms of the government.