* Court ruling changes clearance status on previous letters
* Magu, Keyamo reply Malami, give clarification
* Buhari: We won’t relent over FG’s war against corruption
Strong indications emerged last night about how the ruling of an Abuja High Court in Apo changed the narrative over the two clearance letters earlier issued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Danladi Yakubu Umar.
The EFCC, under the leadership of former Chairman of the commission, Mr Ibrahim Lamorde, had in two separate letters to the Federal Government in 2015 and 2016, absolved Umar of any wrongdoing over an alleged N10 million bribery allegation leveled against him by Rasheed Taiwo Owolabi.
Owolabi is currently standing trial at the CCT tribunal over alleged involvement in false assets declaration.
Umar had been accused of receiving N1.8million through his Personal Assistant, Gambo Abdullahi for a favour to the petitioner (Owolabi) who is standing trial for a criminal offence before the tribunal.
But the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), had on Monday sought a clarification in a letter to the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, asking him to explain the propriety of the fresh criminal charge against Umar in view of the two clearance letters from the commission.
The AGF also asked Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), who filed the corruption charge at an Abuja High Court Abuja against the CCT Chairman to explain who authorized him to file the charge.
The Daily Times also gathered last night that Magu and Keyamo had replied the AGF and gave him necessary clarifications on the matter.
Sources close to Magu and Keyamo also told The Daily Times on Tuesday that the duo could not disclose the contents of their letters on the grounds that the issues involved were private and confidential.
But the Daily Times has stumbled on a ruling by an Abuja High Court in Apo which might have prompted the EFCC under Magu to file the criminal charge against Umar.
Abdullahi Gambo, the personal assistant to Umar had made two statements in the course of investigation while the two statements were later tendered in court.
The development led to trial- within- trial before Justice Rita Orji who is presiding over the matter.
Gambo was said to have indicted his boss (Umar) in the first statement where he stated that Umar told him that somebody (Owolabi) was going to pay into his account and that he should bring the money to him later.
But Gambo was said to have recanted few days later and made another statement where he claimed that he was under duress and forced to indict his boss.
He added that the money paid into his account was meant for the payment of hospital bill of his sick father.
Delivering her ruling on the matter in January 2018, Justice Orji held that Gambo’s first statement was admissible in law on the grounds that it was voluntarily made by him.
The judge further rejected the second statement where Gambo claimed that he was forced to make the first statement. The judge added that Gambo could not blow hot and cold at the same time.
The new development was said to have prompted Magu to instruct Keyamo to file the criminal charge against Umar since the ruling had changed the status of the two clearance letters while a prima facie case was said to have been established against Umar.
The office of the AGF had in the letter dated February 16, 2018 with Reference No DPP/ADV:368/15 and signed by Mr. Dayo Apata, the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, asked Magu to make his response to the AGF on or before Tuesday.
Magu was also asked to explain what informed the filing of corruption charges against the tribunal chairman, after the agency had twice cleared Umar of the corruption allegation.
The query titled “FRN VS Danladi Umar (CR/109/18) Request for Briefing,” reads in part, “The attention of the AGF was drawn to news report that the EFCC 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 AGF 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 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 AGF 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.”
Also, in a separate letter to Keyamo, the AGF asked the lawyer, who was engaged by Magu to prosecute the CCT boss, to confirm who authorized him to file the corruption charge against Umar.
Keyamo was also given till Tuesday to furnish 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 reads in part: “The attention of the AGF 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 AGF 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.”
The EFCC had on February 2, filed a two-count charge against the CCT Chairman over his alleged involvement in receipt of N10m bribe from Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo in the charge signed by Keyamo as a private prosecuting lawyer and Offem Uket an official of EFCC.
Umar was also accused of receiving N1.8million through his Personal Assistant, Gambo Abdullahi, for a favour to the petitioner who was standing trial for a criminal offence before the tribunal.
Meanwhile, an Abuja High Court has fixed March 15 for the arraignment of the CCT chairman.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed that his administration will not relent on the war against corruption, saying that the anti- graft mantra of the federal government is on course.
Buhari stated this on Tuesday in Yola, the Adamawa State capital during his one day visit to the state to declare open an anti- corruption summit by the state government.
According to Buhari, his administration will not relent in fighting corruption.
Declaring the summit open, Buhari maintained that his promise to tackle the twin problems of pervasive corruption and insecurity which his administration observed to be enormous challenge confronting the country when he took office had been kept.
He said, “ You may recall on the 29th of May 2015 when I said that we are faced with enormous challenges in this country with the problem of insecurity, institutional pervasive corruption being key, and that my confidence remains high that together we will tackle the problems head on.”
The President, who met with royal fathers and commissioned some roads constructed by Adamawa State Governor Mohammed Bindow while in the state, also noted that his administration was not tackling the challenge of corruption in isolation of the states.
He said, “We are fixing our problems together, even though under our systems the Federal Government cannot directly interfere in the details and operations of states.
But to see that gross corruption at the local level is being checked in a transparent manner is a thing of satisfaction and joy for me. We will try to ensure that there is more responsible and accountable government at all levels of government in this country.”
In his earlier submission, the Chairman of the summit, Ahmed Joda, said Nigerians needed President Buhari beyond 2019 because the battle to defeat the corruption which the administration is known for, still remains.
He said, “We must support the President in his determination to defeat corruption. The Nigerian people need him as the battle remains. ”
On his part, Governor Bindow observed that those opposed to President Buhari standing for re-election are jittery about his anti-corruption crusade.
He added that since 1999, over N954billion which accrued to the state had not been properly channeled into the development of the state because of corruption.
Umar Bindir, Secretary to the Adamawa State Government in his presentation on “Tackling corruption through Accountability and Transparency: The Adamawa State’s way”, said nearly 100% of the contracts awarded by the previous administration did not comply with due process.
He stated that the development was responsible for the corrupt diversion of funds which could have gone into development of the state.