By Bukola Olasanmi
The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Festus Keyamo have been separately queried by the Federal Government over the corruption charges they filed against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Mr. Danladi Yakubu Umar.
In the query dated February 16, 2018 and with Reference No DPP/ADV:368/15 Magu was ordered to make his response to the query available to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Minister of Justice on or before Tuesday, February 20, 2018.
In the query, signed by Mr. Dayo Apata, the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary Magu is to explain what informed the filing of corruption charges against the tribunal chairman having been cleared of corruption allegation two times by the same Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The query titled “FRN VS Danladi Umar (CR/109/18) request for Briefing,” read in part: “The attention of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation was drawn to news report that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has filed charges of corruption against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Hon. Justice Danladi Umar, before the FCT High Court.
“I am directed by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to seek clarification from you as to whether the charges were filed on your instruction or directive and if in the affirmative, what is the compelling basis for doing so. This clarification becomes imperative in view of the following background facts.
“The Commission’s investigation report dated 5th March 2015 addressed to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation stated as follows: “The facts as they are now against Justice Umar raised a mere suspicion and will therefore not be sufficient to successfully prosecute for the defence.
“The Commission’s position in paragraph 2(a) above was also maintained and sustained by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation while appearing before the House of Representatives’ Investigative Committee sometimes in 2015 to the effect that report of investigations showed that the allegations against Hon. Justice Danladi Umar were based on mere suspicions.
“In view of the foregoing, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation requests for your prompt briefing as to the existence of new facts which are contrary to the position in your attached investigation report, sufficient evidence or other developments upon which the prosecution of Hon. Justice Danladi can be successfully based.
“Kindly accord this letter top priority while your prompt response within 48 hours from the receipt of same is required in the circumstances.”
In the same vein, in a separate letter to Mr. Festus Keyamo SAN, who was purportedly engaged as a private lawyer by Magu to prosecute the CCT boss was also requested by the AGF to confirm who authorized him to file the corruption charge against Umar.
Like Magu, the senior lawyer was given till Tuesday February 20, 2018 to furnish the Office of the AGF in writing detail of who engaged or issued him with authority to file the corruption charges.
The letter to Keyamo with reference No DPP/ADV:369/15 dated February 16, 2018, which was also signed by the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary read in part:
“The attention of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation was drawn to news report that you have filed charges of corruption against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Hon. Justice Danladi Umar, before the FCT High Court.
“The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation hereby requests that you kindly furnish this office with the details of the instruction or authorization upon which you instituted the case under reference. Kindly accord this letter top priority while your prompt response on or before Tuesday, February 20, 2018 is solicited in this regard.”
Although the EFCC in two separate letters to the Federal Government through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation had in 2015 and 2016 cleared Umar of any wrongdoing in the alleged N10 million bribery allegation made against him by a defendant, Rasheed Taiwo Owolabi standing trial before him on false asset declaration.
Upon receipt of the petition from Owolabi, the EFCC had investigated the petition and sent its report to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) with a Reference No EFCC/EC/SGF/03/56 dated March 5, 2015, personally signed by the then Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde exonerating the CCT boss from the bribery saga.
The EFCC report received by the office of SGF on March 6, 2015 was categorical that “the facts as they are against Justice Umar raised a mere suspicion and will therefore not be sufficient to successfully prosecute for the offence.”
Other EFCC’s documents show that in 2016 a fresh investigation was conducted into the same N10mn bribery allegation and the same anti-graft agency in its second report absolved Umar of any wrongdoing and that the bribery allegation against him remain a mere suspicion.
The EFCC’s second report with reference EFCC/P/HRU/688/V30/99 dated April 20, 2016 and submitted to the SGF and signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Emmanuel Adegboyega Aremo, read in part: “Kindly recall our correspondence of March 5 2015 with Reference EFCC/EC/SGF/03/56 with above subject caption. We will like to reiterate the Commission’s position in regard to this matter as earlier communicated to you and state that the allegation levelled against Justice Umar were merely suspicions and consequently insufficient to prosecute the offence.”
Findings revealed that the action of Magu in instituting criminal charges against Umar has caused serious confusion and embarrassment to the Federal Government because the EFCC reports had made clear that the CCT boss had no case to answer.
The AGF was said to have been thoroughly embarrassed with the corruption charges because he had already informed the National Assembly that Umar had no corruption case to answer based on the two reports of EFCC to the Federal Government.
It was gathered that the Federal Government was infuriated by the action of Magu in engaging Keyamo as a private counsel to prosecute the CCT boss in purported corruption charge because, the same Keyamo is the counsel to Rasheed Taiwo Owolabi who is standing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and who made the allegation in the course of his trial on criminal offence.
However, there are indication that the corruption charge against the CCT boss may be dropped by so as not to cause further embarrassment to government in its fight against corruption.