A document obtained by SaharaReporters from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have revealed that the previous Executive Chairman of Commission, Ibrahim Lamorde, did not find evidence to prosecute Justice Danladi Umar for bribery. Mr. Umar, the judge overseeing Senate President Bukola Saraki’s trial for false asset declaration and corruption, was summoned to the Senate Ethics Committee to answer for these allegations.
These documents were clarified by Mr. Ibraheem Al-hassan, the EFCC Head of Press and Public Relations, in a press statement saying that the EFCC wrote a letter to Mr. Umar “exonerating him on the alleged ten million naira bribe” he was being accused of taking.
The decision to summon Mr. Umar to the Ethics Committee was seen by many as a political move aimed at intimidating and punishing him for refusing to dismiss legal proceedings against Mr. Saraki. Several prominent members of the Ethics Committee, including Senators Peter Nwaoboshi and Dino Melaye, are known allies of Mr. Saraki and have attended his legal hearing in solidarity with him.
Mr. Lamorde, in an investigative report submitted to the Secretary of the Federal Government by the EFCC in 2015, stated that Mr. Umar’s conduct in 2012 was suspicious because he met an accused person undergoing a trial before his court in private and that he was accused of accepting bribes.
However, Mr. Lamorde concluded that “the facts as they are now against Justice Umar were a mere suspicion and will therefore not be sufficient to prosecute the offense.”
Umar told Saharareporters in 2015 that his decision to meet with the suspect arose from the recommendation of a retired Supreme Court justice, George Sola Oguntade. He later accused the judge of an attempted to compromise him with the aim of obstructing justice.
Earlier today SaharaReporters reported that the Senate Ethics Committee decided not to summon Mr. Umar any more before their hearing scheduled for tomorrow, following intense public pressure against their politically motivated decision. This news follows the decision by the Senate to drop a proposed amendment to the Code of Conduct Bureau Act, which would disempower much of that law that guides the trial of corrupt public officials at the code of conduct tribunal. The proposed amendment, which was rushed through the first two readings on the Senate floor, was also seen as trying to protect Mr. Saraki from legal proceedings against him.
Also, today Mr. Saraki filed a motion at the CCT asking Umar to disqualify himself from the case.