Danladi Umar, Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), has said he does not respond to any institution but only the presidency.
The CCT chairman made this statement in response to a petition filed by group accusing him of abusing court process and urging the National Judicial Council to impose sanctions on him.
The group, Incorporated Trustees of the Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative had earlier called on the NJC to impose a sanction on Umar, for issuing the directive for Onnoghen’s suspension, noting that it is an abuse of court process as the suspended CJN had not been convicted.
However, Umar insists he is not under the authority of any judicial institution, but the presidency.
He responded to the query through a document marked CCT/HQ/FJSC/S/01 and dated, February 6, 2019, which was addressed to the acting Chairman of the FJSC, Umar said himself and other members of the Tribunal are “not judicial officers” and as such were not subject to judicial institutions such as the FSJC and the NJC.
The document reads: “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.
“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.”
Also on decision to order the suspension of the CJN, he said it was within his power to do so, but failed to comment further as the matter was still in court.
Also attached in the to the response was a letter dated May 18, 2015, and marked NJC/CIR/HOC/1/74 signed by Justice Mahmud Mohammed, who was the CJN at the time.
The content of the letter stated that, Mohammed had asked the CCT to stop referring to themselves as justices as they were not judges.
Noting that the decision was made pursuant to Paragraph 15 (1 and 2) of Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The letter reads: “From the foregoing provisions, no member, including the chairman of the CCT on appointment, is a judicial officer as defined in Section 318 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended unless he or she has held office as a judge of the superior court of record in Nigeria.”