It is no more news that a 49-year-old Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar allegedly assaulted with impunity a security man doing his legitimate duty at Banex Plaza, in Wuse Abuja, on 29th March 2021. What calls for major concern is his impeachable and remorseless statements after his alleged barbaric display which many dictators with the stoutest of hearts will be ashamed to read. He called armless, purposeful, hardworking, and taxpaying Nigerians “BIAFRAN BOYS” – in a way to devalue and relegate their citizenship to the background. When will ethnic chauvinism, sectional parochialism, and social narrow-mindedness stop in Nigeria? If a justice of that level could allegedly exhibit such contemptuous arrogance, where is Nigeria heading to?
If the aims and objectives of the Code of Conduct institution are “to establish and maintain a high standard of morality in the conduct of government business and to ensure that the actions and behaviour of public officers conform to the highest standards of public morality and accountability,” it goes to say that the attitude and character of a person to be the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal should be impeccable, unimpeachable, and irreproachable. He must conduct himself with all sense of exemplarity and admirability. But the fair and handsome Umar from the tourist state of Bauchi, who should have exhibited the panache of a “learned gentleman” seemed to have thrown his wig of wisdom where the so-called “unlearned” made the scorn of it.
I could remember yesteryears as a young man, whenever some of my peers would see a judge, we would follow him around like soldier ants to learn etiquette, manners, discipline, and grammar. You would not see the jurists protruding their offices nor flapping their wings of authority on lawful security personnel. The judges those days were so revered that they were immune from social opprobrium. Their conducts were blameless and second to none. However, in the case of Justice Danladi Umar, the Conductor of the Code of Conduct allegedly refused to be conducted by the lawful security Conductor, and all hell was let loose.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has waded into the alleged assault of a 22-year-old employee of Jul Reliable Guards Services Ltd by Justice Umar. In their press release:
“The attention of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has been drawn to the video making the rounds where the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) – Danladi Yakubu Umar Esq., was seen, together with his security detail, allegedly assaulting a citizen at Banex Plaza, in Wuse Abuja. We understand that this citizen turned out to be a 22-year-old employee of Jul Reliable Guards Services Ltd, posted as a security guard to the Plaza and who is now reportedly hospitalized.
“The NBA has also read the statement credited to the Head, Press and Public Relations of the CCT in response to the actions of Mr. Umar.
“The NBA frowns at any display of naked power by a public officer especially one who, by virtue of his high office, is expected to exhibit a high standard of conduct.”
Justice Umar’s alleged assault was indeed a “display of naked power by a public officer.” It is not in doubt that Justice Umar is one of the most powerful judges in Nigeria. His special judicial office has exposed his tribunal to the constant visit of high profiled Nigerians accused of misconduct and corruption. The most famous of these visitors was the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Walter Onnoghen. Before the alleged conviction of Justice Onnoghen at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, by Danladi Umar, on 18th April, 2019, it was almost an abhorrence for the highly revered former Chief Justices of the Supreme Court to be drilled by such a lower court. For a Tribunal Judge to have assumed “jurisdiction” over the trial of such a supreme officer showed how powerful that tribunal is. It is in view of this, that keen observers could understand what could have caused the intemperance of Umar when he allegedly kicked violently a security man that was kneeling down for his mercy – without penitence and contrition. Good a thing, the show of shame was recorded in a video clip.
In trying to defend himself, Justice Umar, through his spokesman Ibraheem Al-Hassan wrote:
“Our attention was drawn on a report from some online publication with a video cliff suggesting Hon Chairman, Justice Danladi Y. Umar assaulted a Security Guard at Banex Plaza.”
“To start with, the said plaza has been his usual place of visits for the past 18 years for shopping and repairs of his phones, and in all these periods there have never been any time he had any turmoil with anybody.”
“Unfortunately, yesterday’s altercations started over a packing lot, which Chairman met vacant and it was directly opposite a shop he want to make a purchase and to fixe his phone, when the young Security guard sighted him, he ordered that Chairman should not pack his car in that particular empty space, but Chairman asked why, the security guard couldn’t convinced chairman, though Chairman didn’t identify himself, because to him is needless and is a place he visited often, but the boy was rode in his approached and threaten to deal with Chairman if he refuse to leave the scene.”
“Again, if Chairman had went there to cause trouble or intimidate some one, as suggested in the report, he would have gone there in his full official paraphernalia, but he went there alone with his younger brother.”
“The Policemen seen in the video cliff were not the Chairman’s police team, they were policemen operating around the plaza whom at first instance intervened before the arrival of police team from Maitama Police station. As the few policemen in the complex were apparently overwhelmed by the mobs, consisting of BIAFRAN boys throwing matches and shape object to his car, which led to deep cut and dislocation in one of his finger, causing damage to his car, smashing his windscreen.”
“At a point he attempted to leave the scene, these same miscreants, BIAFRANBOYS ordered for the closure of the gate thereby assaulting him before the arrival of police team from Maitama police station.”
“An incident like this when it happened, sympathy usually goes to the low personalities. Though is unfortunate as I said, it ought not to have happened.”
Notwithstanding the grammatical errors not caused by BIAFRAN BOYS he accused in the aforesaid statements, the write-up showered with hate and racism generated reactions from patriotic and broadminded Nigerians. Among those that condemned the alleged reprehensible action of Umar was a human right activist, Aisha Yesufu. In her self-recorded video:
“Did the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar just refer to people as BIAFRAN BOYS? Really? What! Somebody who came out and assaulted a security man? His people I don’t know who he works with slapped the person [security man], and himself was being held by the police, he went ahead to slap and assaulted a man for doing his job, and he has the gut to come out again and referred to people as BIAFRAN BOYS. Omo! What the freaking heck is going on in Nigeria. In an official statement, in his mental mind, in his thought, he refers to people as Biafra Boys, and yet he has the gut to also put it in black and white and refer to people as BIAFRA BOYS. Eeehee! Dey write am for head? Oh my goodness, there is so much and absolute disrespect in this country from charlatans, hooligans, let-my-people-go mentality wey carry am reach justice. Otherwise, if it was based on capacity, will he have been there? If it was based on the same capacity that is used for everyone when people are entering primary, secondary school and all of that, you have cut-off mark, you have one twenty something or some people have 2 or 4 or 6 whatever, if it was based on competency employment was being made will he have been the Justice of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, when he cannot even conduct himself in the public? He assaults someone, and he comes and gives a statement, and that statement he pours pepper, whatever, petrol on fire and everything. What the heck is going on in this country? I mean, all of this nonsense has to stop. That man should either be made to resign or sack or whatever. If he can think of people, and just go to a place and call people BIAFRAN BOYS, just see a group of people and term them or give them a label BIAFRAN BOYS, then he doesn’t have neutrality [to be the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal]…”
One of the damages Justice Umar’s alleged press briefing has succeeded in showing is that it exposed his inherent hatred of the Igbo people, and also showed clearer how some Nigerian elites viewed Igbo hardworking folks. If Justice Danladi Umar, an educated Fulani man, could allegedly be bold enough to order the press release of such divisive, unpatriotic and hateful statements against the Igbos, imagine the perception of his believers. A person who oversees citizens’ conduct must be unbiased, dispassionate, and neutral. It may take a lot for a serious-minded person to agree that Justice Umar, given his alleged assault and utterance has the prerequisite competence to continue to be the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal. The reason for this is predicated on fact that many hardworking and meritorious Igbo people, whom he has seen as BIAFRAN PEOPLE would find it extremely difficult to accept his judgment as unprejudiced and fair.
It is for this reason that the Nigeria Bar Association and National Judicial Council, given the overwhelming evidence of shameful kicking of the unhostile security man, and the derogatory usage and association of some Igbo people as BAFRIANS, should speed up to review Umar’s continuous stay as the Umpire of the temple where conduct is sacrosanct and justice is sacred.