Obviously, it is difficult for someone who has been tagged ‘poor’ to get justice. The so-called elites will always attempt to use the instrumentality of the law to frustrate processes.
In February, the media (both social and traditional) was awash with the news that the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Danladi Umar allegedly assaulted a security guard, Clement Sargwak, serving at Bannex Plaza Abuja.
The young man, Sargwak, through his lawyer Timizing Venyir Ramnap approached his Senator, Istifanus Gyang and submitted a petition.
The Senate president, Ahmad Lawan had asked whether the petitioner was seeking judicial remedy as at the time the petition was submitted, and the answer was no. Under the Senate rules, they don’t entertain a matter that is in court.
The Senate thereafter, referred the petition to its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate the allegation of assault leveled against Umar by Sargwak.
The Committee Chaired by Senator Ayo Akinyelure (Ondo Central) invited Umar and the petitioner. Both appeared. Umar asked for a week to study the allegation but the Senate gave him three weeks.
The privilege extended to Umar was the beginning of him adopting tactics of shunning the Senate. Umar has such a record of shunning the Senate dating back to the 8th Assembly.
But at its 5th sitting, the Senate committee said it is suspending investigation on Umar because of litigations slammed on it, the Senate and the Attorney – General of the Federation by the respondent who is also the CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar.
But lawyer to the petitioner, Timizing Venyir Ramnap, kicked against the decision of the committee.
Ramnap in his brief submissions before the Committee’s ruling, said the purported originating summons from Federal High Court Abuja forwarded to the committee by counsel to the accused, were mere court processes and not declarative orders. In another word, the court didn’t ask the committee to suspend it’s investigation of Umar.
“Courts have procedures for doing things. The present document before this Committee as read out by the Chairman, is not an order from any court but mere court process served on the Senate.
“Were it to be a valid order from the court of competent jurisdiction, the Senate may back out, but since it is not, the Senate through this Committee still has its constitutional powers on the case and can forge ahead with the investigation. We hereby wish to submit that the Senate do look at its position as contained in law by rejecting this temptation”, the petitioner said.
But the Committee Chairman, Akinyelure, quickly responded that it is not a temptation but effort being made by somebody to circumvent it, which will be challenged in the court.
He said: “We have submitted all the originating summons to the leadership of the Senate, clerk to the National Assembly, Clerk of the Senate and the legal department of the National Assembly.
“All the issues raised by the respondent who has turned himself to a plaintiff now will be challenged in the court because investigation on the alleged assault started here before the CCT Chairman ran to court.
“Be rest assured that the matter will not die like that but we have to stop investigation for now, pending the outcome of consultations we are seeking for from relevant authorities and in particular the counter offensive being made against the CCT Chairman in the court of law,” Akinyelure said.
The committee sees Umar’s tactics as a clear case of circumventing the constitutional powers of the Senate after submitting himself to them for investigation, he begged for time to study the allegations made against him.
“He appeared at the first sitting, sought for a week to study allegations of assault leveled against him. We gave him three weeks for that. Thereafter, at the second, third Sessions, he sent representatives that he couldn’t come due to ill health, only for him to inform us through his lawyers at the fourth sitting (July 13, 2021) that he was already in court.
“Here today, neither he nor any of his representatives is here which will make us stop the entire process for now, because we can’t write a report on the investigation by hearing from only one side. We hereby stepdown this investigation sine die, “ Akinyelure.
Danladi in the suit with file with no FHC/ABJ/ CS/671/2021, is challenging Senate’s Constitutional Power to Conduct investigation and purpose for which it is exercisable.
Specifically, the embattled CCT Chairman is asking the court to interpret the constitutional powers granted the Senate or House Committees on Ethics and Public Petitions whether it covers public assaults which as averred by his attorneys, are part of the constitutional functions of the Police and the Courts of Law.
Copies of the originating summons and suit signed by Sunday Edward (ESQ) and other Attorneys from Abuka and Partners on behalf of Danladi Umar, listed him as the Plaintiff while the Senate, The President of the Senate, Senate’s Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions and the Attorney – General of the Federation as Defendants.
The CCT Chairman was alleged to have physical assaulted Clement
Sagwak, a security guard at the Bannex Plaza in Wuse 2, on March 29,
2021 while performing his duty.
The CCT chairman who had submitted himself for investigation, is making efforts at using the instrumentality of the law to evade the process. In order of primacy, the legislature, which is the primary source of Nigerian laws is ahead. If the Senate will not entertain any petition from a petitioner that is already in court, the Judiciary, which is another arm of government, should also hand off petitioners that have already submitted themselves for investigation in the legislative branch before running to file court cases.