Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr. Danladi Yakubu Umar, lamented yesterday before members of the Senate Committee on Anti- Corruption led by its Chairman, Senator Chukwuka G. Utazi over the lack of adequate funding for the tribunal’s itinerant session.
He made the disclosure in Abuja when the committee paid an oversight visit on him to equally assess the CCT’s utilization of the 2015 budget as build up to 2016 appropriation for the Tribunal.
Hon Umar unequivocally stated; ‘‘the greatest challenge facing the Tribunal at a moment is the near total lack of adequate funding to cater for great deal of logistic to move the Tribunal from place to place to dispense justice.
“The Tribunal requires not less than four million naira for one itinerant session alone, lack of funds especially from overheads is largely responsible for our inability to commence trial of quite a number of cases from states and local government councils pending before the Tribunal at the moment.”
The Chairman revealed that the tribunal’s staff, files, vehicles and other item are required to physically move around from state to state for the exercise, adding that that has been capital intensive.
He drew the attention of the Senate Committee on the placement of the Tribunal as superior court of record and increase in the number of Judges for swift adjudications via constitutional amendment.
Umar stressed that the Code of Conduct Tribunal is presently under the Presidency, maintaining that the tribunal carried out purely adjudicatory functions and the process of chairman and members is the same as that of judges of superior courts, through the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) to National Judicial Committee (NJC) then to the President for approval.
He suggested that the provision relating to the tribunal be transferred from the 5th Schedule to chapter VII of the constitution where other superior courts are listed.
Umar equally called for an amendment of the constitution to allow increased in number of Judges of the Tribunal to reflect the six geo-political zones, to effectively and efficiently clear all cases with area of its jurisdiction, given the present composition with only three man penal to cover political and career government functionaries across the entire tiers of governments.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Utazi said the objective of the committee’s visit is to familiarize itself with problems hindering Tribunal’s performance before the actual budget defence at the National Assembly.
He said the Committee is interested in making the institution perform optimally, not to be used in witch-hunting anybody.
Utazi added the movement of the court for itinerant sessions can be discontinued if the tribunal establishes its presence across the geo-political zones of the country.
He called on the CCT’s management to give more attention to publicity for its activities to be heard all over the country via advocacy and media campaign to bring to the consciousness of the public the consequence of Code of Conduct infractions.
He said emphasis should be given to the prevention of crime, rather than punitive mechanism as is the case in developed climes.