About two weeks ago, a video emanated in which the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Danladi Umar, was seen in an altercation with a security guard in a parking lot at Wuse area of Abuja.
The video, which went viral, showed that the CCT chairman took exception to the security guard’s insistence that he could not park his car at a particular place but elsewhere within the premises. In the exchanges that ensued, the CCT chair was seen exchanging hot words with the security guard who stood his ground and at some point proceeded to assault him. The security guard was saved from further physical punishment from the CCT chair by the intervention of people around and the policemen attached to him.
The altercation which occurred in a public place drew the attention of people around and as the whole incident unfolded before their eyes, the crowd judged that the CCT chairman’s action was uncalled for. They then proceeded to throw stones, thereby smashing the windows and windscreens of the vehicles in the chairman’s convoy.
To make matters worse was a poorly-worded statement from the CCT which was released shortly after the incident. In the statement, the spokesman of the tribunal blamed the security guard for the incident, saying he was rude to his boss. The statement also had words that suggested ethnic profiling, which was totally unnecessary.
The FCT police command which has since waded into the matter said it will apply “fairness and professionalism’’ in its investigations.
Without pre-empting the investigations and its outcome by the police, we believe that it is fair to state that the CCT chairman, as befitting the responsible office he occupies should under no circumstances be involved in what appeared in the video. It is pertinent to note that the CCT chairman in his present position is responsible for enforcing the code of public officials as laid down by extant laws through judicial intervention. In this regard, therefore, he is expected to bring to bear not only his legal training and experience but also a mature and nuanced conduct in arriving at his decisions.
We are all aware of the doggedness and determination with which he handled the case of former Senate President Bukola Saraki which won him the admiration of many as an enforcer of the code guiding the conduct of public officers in the country.
For him to be involved in an altercation and physical assault no matter the alleged provocation on a security guard who was following the instructions of his employers was unedifying to say the least. Indeed as a code of conduct czar, the CCT chairman ought to have, instead, praised the guard as an example of due diligence to his duties and instructions which is what the CCT is all about.
The CCT chairman’s conduct in the video is one more example of how highly placed public officials routinely act in ways unbecoming of their positions in the belief that they will go unpunished by the law. We recall that not too long ago, a senator was caught on CCTV camera along with his police detail assaulting a shop attendant.
From misusing the facilities and personnel placed at their disposal, to flouting rules and regulations in public places and reckless conduct in traffic, our public officials who ought to know and act better by setting examples of good conduct have taken undue licence to behave the other way.
In this particular case of the CCT chairman, Danladi Umar, who incidentally is mandated to sit on judgement over the conduct of public officials, should not go unpunished. The matter must not be swept under the carpet. The police who are currently investigating the issue should ensure a thorough job and they must be fair to both parties. They should also make their findings and recommendations public to serve as a deterrent to other public office holders.