By Comfort Obi
|Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Mr. Danladi Yakubu Umar|
If the damning and disgraceful video which went viral on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, is anything to go by, Justice Danladi Umar should resign from office. He should not seat for one more day in an exalted office.
On resignation, there are apologies he must tender publicly and unreservedly.
He should apologise to his family for soiling the family’s name. He should apologise to the Judiciary and the Federal Government for reducing the high office he was appointed into a laughing stock. He should apologise to Nigerians for destroying our collective trust. He should apologise to the Igbo race for categorizing and denigrating the people. He should render a public apology to the security guard at a public place who he slapped around in a most humiliating and undignifying manner. And finally, he should quietly retire to his house and make peace with God.
Umar, for record purposes, is the Chairman of the high profile Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT. I liked his good looks and feminine voice. At face value, the Judge looks harmless and gentlemanly. But he has shown that those caps do not neither harmless nor a gentleman.
Justice Umar is the one who sits in judgement over men and women of “timber and caliber” for alleged official misconduct which includes lying over their assets. A junior Judge compared to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, but very powerful, this Judge was the one before whom the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen appeared. Umar’s judgement was the reason Onnoghen was humiliated out of office.
I remember watching Umar pronounce Onnoghen guilty. He did that with a seeming uncanny, but calm satisfaction for a job well done. As I listened, I shook my head in disbelief at the ironies of life.
It was Umar who, also, for months, made a mockery, almost, of the exalted office of the Senate President, when Dr Bukola Saraki, occupied that office and appeared before him.
And now, it is Justice Umar who has betrayed his office, by behaving so dishonourably in public.
How did Justice Danladi Umar descend to this level?
His unravelling started when he went to the popular Banex Plaza Abuja this Tuesday. It was, alleged, that he went to repair his phone. So, you wonder why he had to go there himself for that. But we are quickly told by a stupid explanation from his office that it is a place he had been frequenting for years.
I now don’t know if the office he holds allows for such frequent visits to such public places. Judges usually live lonely, isolated lives, with extremely few friends, and near-zero socialization. But I digress.
So, Justice Umar went to Banex Plaza. And his driver parked his vehicle as the Judge gingerly stepped out. But he parked at the wrong place. A poor security guard drew his driver’s attention to the wrong parking and asked him to move the car to an appropriate parking lot.
But, as you know, many wealthy and influential Nigerian men/women suffer from what I choose to call the “big man syndrome.” For them, every little thing amounts to an insult. It amounts to a degradation of their power and influence. They need to flaunt it everywhere. That is why even in Churches, I don’t know if it is the same thing in Mosques, they enter with gun-toting security guards who block everywhere. If they have their way, they will block us before God.
I once went to the 40th birthday party of the wife of a colleague of mine (Publisher of a Celebrity Magazine) during the Government of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Midway into the function, the wife of one of Obasanjo’s Special Assistants arrived, herself, one of the so-called celebrity women. That is not the news. The news is that in tow, with her, were six gun-toting Mobile Policemen who, as she walked in, began pushing people around. Yet, it was not a crowded party. But they needed to show us that the wife of a big man has arrived. Thereafter, they cordoned off the area where she sat. Nobody could go near to say hello to the birthday girl or her husband. A number of people left in disgust! And her husband was not even the most influential Special Assistant/ Special Adviser then. That prize at the time belonged to Dr Andy Uba, whose wife was in the background.
But, again I digress.
When Justice Umar’s driver was asked to move the car, the Justice felt slighted and, disrespected by a common security guard. Instead of allowing his driver to sort out the situation, he decided to flaunt his power and influence in a most disgraceful manner, at an inappropriate place.
First, he started an argument with the poor guard who was only doing his job. Then he slapped the guy, not just once, but a couple of times, for daring to keep to the rules of his workplace. He slapped him for not breaking the law and order guarding his workplace. And this is a man who is a Judge. He is a man who sits in judgement over others. And there he was, slapping a young man. As if the slappings were not enough, he went to his car and took something, apparently to hit him, but was restrained.
But Umar miscalculated. The Nigerian masses, whose one of them he was slapping around, are angry and frustrated. Not only was Umar’s bad behaviour being recorded for public consumption, but a commentary also accompanied it by a man who kept asking him to leave. “Oga leave. Oga gooooo. Oga comot for here oooo. Oga save yourself ooo!”
The commentator was right. An angry crowd was gathering, a crowd that could bay for blood. Yet, Umar wouldn’t listen He had to be cajoled and literally pushed into his car. I choose to say: smuggled into his car. Because at that time, they had started throwing things at his car. I think a couple of glasses had already been broken.
And when his driver, made to drive out, the angry crowd had locked the gate. I froze, thinking the worst was about to happen.
It is a miracle Umar was not lynched on Tuesday. Policemen who behaved better than him by not releasing any shots or tear gas saved him.
The first time I watched the video, the platform from where it was forwarded to me mis-captioned it. The caption said it was Senator Elisha Abboh – the Adamawa Senator who beat up a salesgirl in an adult shop in Abuja when he went to make a purchase.
Where I proudly come from, there is a saying that one does not know when to take, seriously, the cries of a child who cries often. We had caught the Senator in bad behaviour before. So, I believed he was the one.
Not only did I forward the video to a couple of my close friends, but I was also preparing to slam him for another bad behaviour, and tell his zone why he should be recalled, and Adamawa people why nobody should allow him realise his ambition in 2023. The guy, after the adult shop incident, insists he wants to be Governor of his State. Such temerity!
When the correct version affirmed it was Justice Umar, I was diminished as a Nigerian.
Yet, Justice Umar did not still understand the gravity of his bad behaviour. For, even with the viral video, he lied, and insulted my Race, the Igbo.
Instead of burying his head in shame, Umar allowed an ill-advised statement from his office. He lied that he did not slap the boy. He gave the impression it was the opposite. He gave the impression that he was the one attacked. And worse, he heaped the blame on a Race. “I was attacked by a group of Biafra boys”, apparently, referring to the Igbo! Why Biafra? What brought that jaundiced assertion up?
I have since watched that video a number of times and listened to the voices. The commentator was not Igbo, and the crowd which witnessed Umar’s descent from the Olympian heights to the gutter was a mixed crowd. But, to cover his shame, Umar had to insult a race. The guy doesn’t have the temperament of a Judge. No matter the situation, they are calm. They never allow their emotions to rule them
Now, the Igbo know. Unless Justice Umar resigns from office, no Igbo should appear before him. He holds the Igbo in contempt. This kind of stupid assumption, and hateful categorization of a Race, is at the root of our crisis in Nigeria.
Finally, I understand that Umar went to report the poor security guard to the Police. I understand that the guy was picked up, and granted bail after the DPO watched the video. I cannot confirm.
But Justice Danladi Umar should not be allowed to get away with this bad behaviour. The security guard should sue him for everything he has got.
Obi is Publisher of The Source Magazine.
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