By Haruna Salami
It was lamentations all the way at the resumed sitting of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition, Tuesday as the Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, Danladi Umar refused for the fourth time to appear before it to defend himself in a petition over assault against him by Clement Sargwak, a security man at Banex Plaza, Abuja some months ago.
In a dramatic fashion, Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileged and Public Petition, Senator Ayo Akinyelure (Ondo central) said Justice Danladi has taken the Senate to court, adding that at the time the committee invited the two patties (Danladi Umar and Clement Sargwak) there was no case before any court of law.
He said Danladi Umar appeared at the first sitting of the committee and asked for only one week to enable him study the petition and the Committee, in its wisdom, gave him three weeks.
However, at the second and third sittings of the committee, he refused to appear on the excuse that he was sick and at the fourth sitting on July 13, he came with a court summons.
“In order to stop the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from doing its constitutional duty, he is now taking this matter through the back door to the court to show the Senate that we don’t have the constitutional rights to investigate a case of assault”.
Although Senator Akinyelure said Danladi has no power to stop the Senate, another arm of the government, from performing it’s constitutional functions, he announced that the Committee has suspended the investigation for “further consultations”.
However, in swift reaction, counsel to the petitioner, Timizing Venyir Ramnap said what was before the Senate Committee was a mere court process and not a Court Order stopping the committee from doing its constitutional duty.
He said, as lawyers, “with due respect to the courts and those lawyers, we know what is right and we know the rule of courts are laws. They know when and where to serve”.
“As I’m talking to you, I have not set my eyes on any paper, I’m just hearing from the Committee now. It’s the committee chairman that is saying court documents, we have not seen anything. To be honest, we have not been served”.
“Justice is justice, there is no other name attached to it or that can be substituted. What we are fighting for is that justice that every Nigerian knows that this boy was beaten by this man. A lot of Nigerians saw this and a lot of Nigerians are waiting to see what the Senate is going to do”.
“With what transpired today in this Committee, there is no Order of any Court stopping the Senate from hearing this case. Nigerians should mark this. A mere service of Court process (originating summons) complaining about our coming to the Senate with this petition does not warrant a stay of proceedings”, he said.
Justice Danladi Umar’s suit has the Senate as first defendant, Senate President, (second defendant), Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition (third defendant) and Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (fourth defendant).