Many Nigerians have continued to demand for the removal of the country’s Conduct of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) chairman, Danladi Umar over an assault on security guard, a 22-year-old Mr. Clement Sargwak, at Banex Plaza, Wuse in Abuja, as well a statement he subsequently issued through the spokesperson of the commission, Ibraheem Al-Hassan, blaming those he identified as “Biafran Boys” for the incident.
Responding to the incident that occurred on Monday, Umar in the statement said he did not go to the plaza to cause trouble, but was attacked by a mob 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.”
The statement which was riddled with grammatical errors whose issuer has since confirmed he was instructed by his boss to use the term Biafran Boys, had read, “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 Police men 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, BIAFRAN boy 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.”
However, the account contradicted what was captured in the video, which showed Umar and his driver physically assaulting the security guard.
The presidency has not spoken to on the incident, nearly a week afterwards.
Many have, however continued to take to social media to demand that the CCT chairman be sacked, even as he is accused of intentionally using Biafran boys in his statement as form of ethnic profiling.
“I’m absolutely shocked. Somebody who came out and assaulted a security man for doing his job, has the guts to come out again and refer to people as Biafran boys in an official statement,” noted activist, Aisha Yesufu.
“In his mind, he refers to some people as Biafran boys, and in he has gone ahead to put it in black and white. There is a lot of disrespect in this country from hooligans who got positions from patronage. Would he have gotten that position on merit? This nonsense has to stop. He should be forced to resign or sacked.”
“It is only in a proper jungle or an interest-ideological-captured state that a prime quasi-judicial officer will exhibit violent and irresponsible conduct, as demonstrated by CCT Danladi Umar, and he is still in the office,” said Ariyo-Dare Atoye @AriyoAristotle. “It is a national shame. This crime will hunt him.”
On his part, lawyer and activist Inibehe Effiong, @InibeheEffiong insisted that, “Mr. Danladi Umar has to quit his position. He lacks the discipline and reputation to lead the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
“CCT is meant to hold public officers to ethical standards and moral rectitude. The head of the CCT should not be associated with thuggery and bigotry.”
Also commenting on the incident, Otaigbe Imadegbelo @Imudia_se2 said, “since we have decided to allow “video cliff” Danladi Umar to continue in office.. Just know that no Igbo person case he’s handling will get a fair judgment. Danladi Umar must resign!”
Similarly, political scientist and activist, Jibrin Ibrahim @JibrinIbrahim17 argued that, “Danladi Umar, chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal was caught on video physically assaulting a security man at Banex Plaza in Abuja saying the guard was “rude”. Then he issues a statement condemning Biafran boys. No decorum, totally unacceptable, he must be sacked.”
Journalist Chuks Akunna, @akunnachux pointed out that Mr. Umar’s action was in clear violation of the code of conduct for judicial officers, wondering why he has been allowed to continue in office.
“Code of Conduct for judicial officers,” he quoted, ‘A Judicial officer should avoid impropriety…in ALL his activities” & Should respect & comply with the laws of the land &…conduct himself at ALL times in a manner that promotes public confidence…’ Danladi Umar has breached d code. He must go!”
Also reacting to the incident, Dr. Dípò Awójídé @OgbeniDipo noted that, “The use of Biafran Boys (twice) in the statement by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) is vile and provocative. It’s basic dog whistling against Igbo people. Danladi Umar, chairman of the CCT should take responsibility for his actions and not deflect with this vile press release.”
While noting that Umar would have succeeded in presenting himself as the victim, had the incident not been captured in a video, Savn Daniel @savndaniel, argued that there is no reason the CCT boss should still be in office.
“Imagine if someone had not filmed what actually transpired there, Danladi Umar and his evil twisted Press Release, would have had the country thinking he was the victim. Is there any reason why Danladi Umar should not be sacked?” he wondered.
Following the outrage, however, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on Thursday, issued a statement condemning the incident.
The judicial body in statement by its publicity secretary, Dr Rapulu Nduka, said the CCT chairman, as a member of the legal profession is expected, by the extant rules that regulate the conduct of legal practitioners in Nigeria, to maintain a high standard of professional conduct, and not to engage in any conduct which is unbecoming of a member of the legal profession.
“The attention of the NBA has been drawn to the video making the rounds where the chairman of the CCT, Danladi Yakubu Umar Esq., was seen, together with his security detail, allegedly assaulting a citizen at Banex Plaza, in Wuse Abuja,” the statement said.
“We understand that this citizen turned out to be a 22-year-old employee of Jul Reliable Guards Services Limited, posted as a security guard to the plaza and who is now reportedly hospitalised.
“The NBA has also read the statement credited to the Head, Press and Public Relations of the CCT in response to the actions of Umar.”
The NBA stated that it frowns on 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.
“The situation is all the more critical when it involves the head of an agency of government set up to ensure compliance, by public officers, with the code of conduct.
“Prima facie evidence available at the moment raise questions regarding whether such standards have been met,” he said and added that the association shall, through its relevant committee, investigate the circumstances leading to the altercation.
With the outcome of the investigation, the NBA said it will ensure that appropriate action is taken to address this occurrence
Meanwhile, the security guard, Mr. Sargwak, who was assaulted by Umar in the video, narrated his ordeal to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday.
Mr Sargwak, who had a bruised lip, told the medium in pidgin English that he was assaulted after informing Mr Umar that his car was wrongly parked.
“I work as a security man stationed at the car park section at the old Banex Plaza. I was on duty when a man (Mr Umar) arrived in his car at the plaza and I noticed he parked his vehicle wrongly,” he said.
“Then I approached him to inform him about his wrong parking, because he had parked by the roadside obstructing other visitors arriving at the plaza. After I informed him about his wrong parking, he came out and slapped me, when he slapped me the driver also came down and slapped me and they tore my uniform and they stepped over me severally.”
Responding to the allegation that he threatened Mr Umar, Mr Sargwak said, ”It was even the ‘Oga’ by himself (Mr Umar) that went to his car to pick up an iron rod in an attempt to hit me on my head.
“A tenant at the plaza quickly held his hand and pleaded with him on my behalf not to hit me with the metal. I later ran to meet my supervisor to come to my aid. I was unable to find my supervisor. But I later got my head guard to report my situation. On getting there, my head guard called the Banex police.
“I was slapped and kicked again by Mr Umar, policeman.”
Mr Sargwak said Mr Umar called the policemen and State Security Service (SSS) operatives attached to him as security details from home and waited for them to arrive.
He said on the arrival of the security details, a policeman among them also slapped him “on the order of Mr Umar”.
“When the police from Banex arrived at the scene, they tried calming the situation after speaking to him without success. The Oga called the police and SSS stationed at his residence and ordered the driver to go pick the security officers while he waited for them.
”When the man arrived with the security men, the Oga slapped me again in front of the police and ordered a police officer to also slap me which he did and thereafter ordered me to kneel down and I obeyed. As I went on my knees, the Oga also kicked me in my face and hit my mouth. I fell and my head guard then took me to my M.D’s office. That was when the Maitama Police Division came and took us to their station,” Mr Sargwark said.
Two witnesses, who declined to give their names for fear of possible victimisation, also told PREMIUM TIMES how Mr Umar assaulted Mr Sargwak in defiance of pleas from people around.
He said after spending some time at the Maitama police division, the Banex plaza’s lawyer arrived to free him.
”When we got there with the man (Mr Umar) he was at the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) office but he later left. I was later approached by the police to call my manager from the plaza so we can be released. My manager came along with the Banex plaza’s lawyer and I was later bailed from the Maitama Police Station,” Mr Sargwak said.
Asked if he spent the night at the cell? he said, ”No, I did not spend the night there. I was not even put inside the cell.
“As we returned to the Banex Plaza in the evening at about 7p.m. I saw him (Mr Umar) with my two eyes open. They came to arrest a man, Peter Onyiuke, who had helped him pick up his phone and immediately returned; because his phone had dropped on the floor when he was beating me.
”He arrived with two Hilux vehicles filled with operatives of the SSS. He dropped them and left. SSS operatives fired some shots in the air and they took him away.”
While on a visit to the plaza on Wednesday, Premium Times reporter observed that about three police officers in mufti said to be from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command and the Maitama Police Division were interrogating Mr Sargwak behind closed doors.
Samuel Ihensekhien, a lawyer to the owners of the plaza who also represents Mr Sargwak, told PREMIUM TIMES that the Police FCT Police Command had taken over the case.
He said, ”It was brought to my attention that on March 29, Mr Sargwak was assaulted and harmed and was on the verge of almost being killed by Mr Danlandi Umar. And he was subsequently taken to the Maitama Police Station.
“I was informed that Mr Danladi Umar went to lay a complaint there and they (the police) have taken his (Mr Sargwak’s) statement. I met with the DPO and I brought out the video recordings of what actually happened.
”They (the police) were very surprised, and the DPO saw the footage and immediately ordered he (Sargwak) be released on bail forthwith. He was then handed to the Banex manager and from there he was taken for medication.”
Mr Ihenskhien, who was displeased with the treatment Mr Sargwak got from the police, insisted that his client, being the assault victim, “should be treated like the nominal complainant”.
He said, “We do not have a problem with the police invite, but with the way the matter has progressed, he has the status as a nominal complainant, because he was the one that was assaulted.
”They (police) came this morning and about three of them in mulfti from the FCT Command and Maitama Police station with two police officers who were escorts. They took his statement again, and his photograph. I am not comfortable with that. If they want anything from him, they should invite his lawyers, not him.”