The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, on Tuesday, said there was no “material fact” to prosecute the Chairman of the Conduct of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar, over corruption allegations by the Anti Corruption Network.
Mr. Malami made the disclosure when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions, investigating the allegations of corruption against Mr. Umar in a petition to the House by the ACN.
A member of the House, Riwa Shawalum, had on November 12, laid before the House the petition signed by the group’s Executive Secretary, Ajulo Ajulo.
The group was headed by Dino Melaye, who is currently a senator.
Among the allegations contained in the petition was the withdrawal of N1 million in July 2011 from the coffers of the CCT by Mr. Umar to sponsor his own wedding.
He was also accused of spending N15.2 million to purchase a Toyota Prado sport utility vehicle “without following due process”.
Mr. Umar was further accused of awarding contracts for the supply of office furniture and fittings at N11.3 million in March 2011.
The contracts were reportedly executed by a “supposedly engineering company and not a furniture or supply company”.
He also allegedly paid N4.2million for “purchase of welfare items” in a contract executed by a private individual.
Another N4.2 million for the “procurement of external light bulbs” was described by the petitioners as “entirely fictitious contract”.
As part of the investigation, the Committee had sought submissions from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Attorney General of the Federation.
But Mr. Malami said that based on the presentation by Mr. Umar, the petition by ACN and the submission by the EFCC, it would be difficult to initiate prosecution against the CCT Chairman.
“Deriving from the conclusions, it became difficult for any prosecution to be initiated on the basis of facts as they were presented,” the AGF said.
“The position of the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation is that in the absence of further material fact in the allegations, we find it very difficult to prosecute Alhaji Umar in the circumstances against the background of his presentation and further conclusion arrived at by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“I’m happy to bring to the notice of the committee that EFCC has provided opinion on the basis of which we acted, a copy of that letter I believe has been made available to the committee. It is dated 5th March 2015.
“Of particular interest is the second to the last paragraph which is paragraph five of the letter of the letter, with the permission of the chairman of the committee I quote; facts as they are now against Justice Umar raised a mere suspicion and will therefore not be sufficient to successfully prosecute for the offence”.
The letter cited by the AGF was an “Investigation Report” referenced EFCC/EC/SGF/03/56, responding to the directive by a former Secretary General of the Federation, Pius Anyim, that that the anti-graft agency investigate allegation of bribery against Mr. Umar.
A retired Deputy Comptroller General of Nigerian Customs Service, Rasheed Taiwo, who was standing trial at the CCT, had accused Mr. Umar of demanding N10 million bribe from him.
In the report, the EFCC said, “There are indications that the Tribunal Chairman (Mr. Umar) might have demanded and collected money from the complainant through his said Personal Assistant. However, efforts to recover the telephone handset used by Justice Umar proved abortive as he claimed he lost the phone in 2012.
“This has made it impossible to subject it to independent analysis with a view to corroborating the allegation. In the same vein, the complainant could not also make available his telephone set on the grounds that he had lost it.
“Justice Umar also admitted that he met privately severally with the complainant in his chamber at the Tribunal. This is a most unethical and suspicious conduct on his part.
“There is a prima facie evidence to however prosecute the Personal Assistant, Abdullahi, who could offer no coherent excuse for receiving N1.8 million naira into his salary account from Taiwo who is an accused person standing trial at the Tribunal,” he said.
Mr. Ajufo said he wanted the House Committee headed by Nkem Uzoma – Abonta, to use its petition to verify all accusations
“We are whistleblowers we have fought corruption both locally and globally, we have fought corruption in primary school and in the Federal executive. We have done this over.
“We are here to adopt our petition with this honourable committee, we are also to say that the committee should use our petition to investigate and verify all the accusations, our organisation is not into blackmail, it is not sectional and selective in our fight against corruption.
“One of the major issues we have here in our petition and as stated we cannot understand why directive by the AGF is only focusing on the personal assistant on the chairman of CCT, one Ali Gambo and not the chairman himself.
“Mr Chairman, we urge this committee to please ask the Chairman of CCT to produce the original of the following documents which are; one advanced payment vouchers and other voucher, from 2011 to 2014, I will beg to stop here for now,” he said.
A director of the CCT, Abdulaziz Badisha, asked the committee to request the ACN to produce its document of registration.
Mr. Nkem- Abonta, while ruling on the matter, said all presentations would be looked into accordingly and asked the ACN to produce its registration document within the next 48 hours.