Three grounds upon which CCT chairman should be expelled – Former NBA President

A former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has asked the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee to expel the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr Danladi Umar, from the legal profession for allegedly bringing the profession to disrepute with the steps he took in the trial of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

Agbakoba, in his letter dated January 29, 2019, itemised three grounds upon which the LPDC should strike Umar’s name out of the  Roll of Legal Practitioners in Nigeria.

First, he said the CCT Chairman erred for assuming jurisdiction over the charges filed against Justice Onnoghen when he knew that the CCT lacked jurisdiction.

Agbakoba, who is a Life Bencher, argued that Umar was aware of the judgement of the Court of Appeal in the case of Nganjiwa vs FRN, where the court held that a serving judge could not be charged to court unless he or she is first probed and sanctioned by the National Judicial Council.

He recalled that the CCT, led by Umar, had on the basis of Nganjiwa’s case, struck out the charges filed by the Economic and Financial Commission against Justice Sylvester Ngwuta.

Agbakoba said the interim order granted by Umar on January 23 authorising President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend the CJN was suspect, as the lawyer who filed the ex parte application and argued it was not indicated on the order.

“This gives the impression that the CCT may have drawn up the (ex parte) application by itself,” Agbakoba said.

He said with the President suspending the CJN and replacing him with Justice Tanko Muhammad as acting CJN, “Mr Umar’s misconduct has created a constitutional crisis and brought great embarrassment to the legal profession.”

Agbakoba told the LPDC that there was a pending bribery case against Umar before the Federal High Court in Abuja, in which he was accused of demanding a bribe of N10m  from one Mr Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo in 2012.

He said he believed that since Umar is not a judicial officer, the Nigerian Bar Association Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee had the power to punish him.

He said, “In the light of these violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct, we pray the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee direct that the name of Mr Danladi Umar be struck out of the Roll of Legal Practitioners in Nigeria.”