You will recall that in October 2016, the homes of judges were raided by the Department of State Security Services highlighting the deep level of corruption in our Judiciary which by norm is the last hope of the common man. The revelations of the raids have in no small way shown that there is a serious cause for concern not just in the conduct of our judges but in the entire composition of our Judicial system. Revelations have come forward to suggest that many of our judicial officers ‘judges’ and judicial staff are compromised with financial inducement or other forms of reward as shown in the case of Justice Ademola who allegedly used his position to influence the appointment of his wife as the Head of Service in Lagos State.
These allegations though unproven in a court of law still leaves a lot of questions about the standards of the judiciary. The composition of the members of the Federal Judicial Service Commission and the National Judicial Council have remained a reward platform for retired judges and external players with interest in the judiciary, as can be seen in the Secretary of the Federal Judicial Service Commission and the National Judicial Council sitting in office in the same capacity for over 15 years, the longest in the history of Nigeria. The question is; how has such a sensitive position which is pivotal to everything the judiciary does been kept away from scrutiny and from the Nigerian people?
Halilu Daladi is the secretary of the National Judicial Council (NJC), the statutory body in charge of both financial and administrative control of the Judiciary. He was appointed the secretary of the NJC in 2002 and has remained as secretary till date. This means he has served 8 chief Justices of Nigeria; Justice Uwais, Justice Alfa Belgore, Justice Kutigi, Justice Katsina Alu, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, Justice Aloma Mukhtar, Justice Mahmud and the present chief justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter onnoghen. He turned 60 in November, 2016, which is the official retirement age in the civil service, but due to pressure on the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud, by forces within and outside the Judiciary, he was given a contract appointment until June, 2017.
Our sources within the Judiciary informed us of the immense pressure on the current CJN to extend his tenure to June 2018 when he intends to run for office of the Governor of Nasarawa state. The Secretary of the NJC by creation serves as a liaison between the Judiciary and the other arms of Government. The extent to which these powers can be exercised in some cases trickles to politicians which have served him in his positioning to become the next Governor of Nasarawa state.
Justice Dahiru Musdapher was the first Chief justice of Nigeria to openly admit to the fact that there was corruption in the Judiciary, specifically in the NJC. This was further shown in Justice Aloman Mukhtar’s insistence on the removal of Halilu Danladi as the Secretary of the Council. She had opined that her findings revealed that Halilu Danladi was neck-deep in the corruption in the NJC and as such if an overhaul would be possible, he had to go; a move that failed owing to the political reach of Halilu Danladi. The reality is that politicians always have an interest in the Judiciary because of the multiple electoral cases in the court, a loophole Halilu Danladi and other Judicial staff has taken advantage of due to the lack of access to Judges.
Halilu Danladi is without doubt the most powerful man in the Judiciary, but has somehow succeeded in staying far from public scrutiny, while without exaggeration pulling the strings.
Halilu Danladi until recently has been a major supporter and facilitator of the interest of the PDP. He had direct access to stakeholders of the PDP in and outside government and was able to facilitate a lot of deals for the party and its officials in his reign as the Secretary of the NJC, as observed in the wedding of his two daughters who married on the same day. This wedding occasion was graced by former and present Governors and National Assembly members.
He recently pitched tent with the current Government and has close ties with the current Governor of Nasarawa state, Tanko Al-Makura, whose younger brother is a major contractor at the NJC. The Secretary of the NJC executes contracts running into billions of naira through many proxies. Since he has final approval of contract award and executions, he is at liberty to decide who gets what, when and how. One of his proxies for the execution of major contracts at the NJC is his childhood friend, one Mr. Nathaniel who was recently abducted and released after a ransom of N50million was paid, executes major construction, renovations and supplies contracts at the NJC. Our source in the judiciary says that part of the returns is used to service the interest of retired judicial officers and political allies.
Mr. Halilu Danladi has many petitions against him, most recently at the office of the Auditor General of the Federation bothering on financial misappropriation and mismanagement of judicial funds. This led to the raid in his home last year by members of the Nigerian Police Force on the instruction of the IGP, a case that has been swept under the carpet like many over the years. He has been able to hold sway of the Judiciary by awarding contracts and financial inducements to family members of the past Chief Justices and some of their personal friends with or without the support of the Justices which in the long term serves as blackmail against the office of the justices.
Our source has also confirmed that there are issues in the judiciary regarding recruitment without respect to Federal Character. It shows that the NJC has over a 50% workforce from the North Central and about 70% of that from Nasarawa alone. There are also situations where people are recruited without prerequisite qualification to serve as loyalists to the office of the secretary of the NJC. Most recruitment are reward exercises as he has the power to recruit staff below grade level 7 without the authorization of the council.
The DSS and the EFCC although perceived as shabby, have done a good job in at least exposing the level of corruption in our judiciary, but this investigative bodies must look closer at the office of the Secretary of the NJC and be ready to investigate Alhaji- Halilu Danladi over various corrupt practices in the promotion, appointment, award of contracts, management in the over 15 years in office.
Source: Leader NG