Femi Falana, human rights activist, has advised Danladi Umar, chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to respond to the query served on him by the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).
Umar had questioned the power of the FJSC to query him while dismissing the allegation of judicial misconduct arising from the suspension of Walter Onnoghen, former chief justice of Nigeria.
The CCT chairman said he was not answerable to any institution aside the presidency.
But Falana said the FJSC was perfectly in order when it queried the CCT chairman, adding that the CCT is not under the presidency.
Quoting section 36 (1) of the CCT constitution, he said the chairman and members of the CCT are recognised as judicial officers by the constitution.
“In dismissing the allegation of judicial misconduct arising from the circumstances surrounding the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mr. Justice Walter Onnoghen, the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, has questioned the power of the Federal Judicial Service Commission to query him,” the statement read.
“According to him, the Code of Conduct Tribunal is under the presidency and as such, the Chairman and the two other members of the Tribunal only report to the President.
“To justify his queer position, Justice Umar said a former chief justice had warned the members of the tribunal to stop calling themselves judges.
“By virtue of section 36 (1) of the Constitution the Code of Conduct Tribunal shall be constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.
“It is regrettable to note that a Tribunal established by the Constitution as an independent juridical organ of the Federation has conveniently reduced itself to an appendage of the Presidency.
“It is expressly stated in the Constitution that the power to appoint the staff of the Tribunal and to exercise disciplinary control over them shall vest in the members of the Code of Conduct Tribunal and shall be exercisable in accordance with an Act of the National Assembly.
“Contrary to the embarrassing position of the Tribunal Chairman, Paragraph F of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution, 1999 as amended provides that the Federal Judicial Service Commission shall advise the National Judicial Council in nominating persons for appointment and removal of federal judicial officers including the Chairman and members of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
“Paragraph 15 of Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule to t1he Constitution provides that the President shall appoint the Chairman and members of the Code of Conduct Tribunal on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council.
“The retirement age of Chairman and members of the Code of Conduct Tribunal is 70 years like Justices of the appellate courts.”
Falana said unlike ministers and staff in the presidency, the chairman and members of the CCT cannot be removed from office by the president.
He added that if the CCT chairman fails to respond to the query, the FJSC may recommend his removal from office.