A 22-year-old security guard Clement Sargwak, who was assaulted by Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Danladi Umar, is in hospital receiving medical attention for injuries sustained in the incident.
A viral video clip of the assault, which occurred at Banex Plaza in Wuse 2, Abuja, on March 29, elicited outrage from many Nigerians with calls from several quarters for Umar to be removed from his position. As Chairman of the CCT, Umar presides over the trial of public officers accused of misconduct.
Sargwak, a personnel of Jul Reliable Security Guards, a private outfit which provides security services at Banex Plaza, was allegedly physically manhandled by Umar when he accosted the judge for parking his vehicle in an inappropriate manner in the plaza’s parking lot.
Sargwark’s supervisor Dennis Omala informed The ICIR on April 6 that the security guard was diagnosed with internal injuries. The guard also sustained open wounds on his lips, where Umar kicked him with his shoes, the supervisor said.
Omala, however, did not disclose the identity of the hospital where Sargwak was receiving treatment. He also told The ICIR correspondent, who wanted to speak with the guard, that Sargwak, who was traumatised by the incident, was incommunicado at the moment for ‘security reasons.’
He said the management of the security outfit took the guard to hospital for proper medical attention.
“The boy is still in the hospital, and we can’t allow him to talk now. He is receiving treatment. We are still taking care of him because, due to the injuries he sustained, if we had told him to stay at home we may lose him, and we don’t want to take chances. He is improving now but he was in a very bad shape before. Apart from the lips that were torn, he was diagnosed with an internal injury because the judge also hit him on the chest,” Omala told The ICIR.
The supervisor suggested that Sargwak could have died if he had not received treatment for the injuries.
“Besides, if he had died, the story will be that a judge has killed somebody and it will be a different case. The story will be that the judge hit him and he died. So we had to take him to the hospital to ensure that he was healed first because life is more important.”
*CCT chairman has not reached out to security guard or the company since incident
Omala further disclosed that Umar had not tried to reach out to the security guard or the management of the security outfit since the incident occurred.
“The unfortunate thing is Danladi Umar has not reached out to him (security guard) or shown any interest on how to resolve the problem. I expected that he would try to reach out to us through our lawyer or the management, or even through me, being the supervisor,” Omala said.
- Security outfit makes demands, says CCT chairman should settle guard’s medical bills
In calling on the judge to ‘reach out,’ Jul Reliable Security Guards is demanding that the judge should settle Sargwark’s medical bills.
Speaking with The ICIR, Omala added, “Let him reach out – he should call the boy or the company. Let us find a way to resolve this issue. Let him offset the boy’s hospital bills because at the moment the company is bearing the cost alone. Let him start from there. Since the incident happened, the judge has not reached out to the boy or to the company and we are patiently waiting for him to reach out to us so that we find a way to resolve this issue. Let him call and we will tell him what to do. The issue of the medical bills is not the most important matter. He should reach out to us first.”
- CCT chairman, in interview with PR Nigeria, claims he was attacked and injured by Biafran mob singing secessionist slogans
In an interview with PRNigeria, Umar had justified his claims that he was assaulted by alleged ‘Biafran boys’ at Banex Plaza on the day of the incident.
“When I was accosted by the plaza guard in a very rude manner on arriving there, I had maintained my accustomed decorum before I was drawn into an unnecessary altercation and subsequently assaulted, with this degenerating into an attack and injury by a mob that was chanting secessionist and sectional slogans,” the judge told PRNigeria, adding that, contrary to insinuations, he had no bodyguard or police escort when he visited the plaza.
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The CCT chairman, who also claimed that he visited the hospital to treat injuries he sustained during the ‘assault on him,’ said the video that was shared on the social media captured only an aspect of what ensued and not the beginning where he was molested.
- Supervisor says Umar lied, no Biafran-link to incident
Reacting to the CCT chairman’s claims, Omala said the judge lied.
He said, “There was no connection to Biafra in anyway. The boy (Sargwak) was from Plateau, I am from Benue. In this security outfit and in the plaza, we have people from different states – we have Nasarawa people, we have Plateau and others. There was nothing like Biafra in this thing.” He added, “Nobody gathered to shout Biafra slogans. Rather, the tenants and visitors in the plaza, who were around, were angry at the judge’s action and they were saying ‘This boy is a human being you should not treat him like that.”
The security guard’s supervisor further dismissed Umar’s claims that he was assaulted.
Giving an account of the incident, Omala said, “I was there, I even held him (Umar). I told him. ‘Sir, you are more than this thing you are doing’ because at that time, he had already introduced himself as a judge. When the problem started, my boy (Sargwak) called me immediately and I rushed there with my police. They were saying that somebody slapped my boy. So I went there with my Police and when I got there, he (Umar) told me that he is a judge. I told him that ‘Considering your position, you are not supposed to slap the boy. Even if the boy did something wrong, you are supposed to ask of his supervisors and the management of the plaza to report the incident. That is the way to handle the issue in a polite way as an educated person. You can’t fight in the plaza.”
“But even while I spoke to him, he (Umar) was not listening, he just wanted to fight. He was only interested in fighting the security man. If you saw the video, you would notice that people were holding him back. It was shocking and things are not supposed to be done like that. Personally, if I happened to be in such a position (judge) I can’t bring myself down like that.”
- CCT chairman’s car allegedly brushed a pregnant woman when he was parking
Omala told The ICIR that that Umar’s car brushed a pregnant woman while he was parking in the plaza.
He said, “I asked the security guard what happened and he said the man (Umar) drove round and in the process, his vehicle hit one pregnant woman. The glass of his car brushed the woman, but the woman said she didn’t want to make trouble because when we were beckoning on the woman to come, she heard that the man was a judge and she became afraid. But the man did not even apologise to the woman.”
“So when my boy (security guard) came to me, he reported that the man parked wrongly and he told him to park well so that parking space would be accessible to other drivers. He said the man now came down from the car and slapped him. His driver also slapped the boy. They now pushed him to the ground and started marching on him. The judge then ran to his car and brought an iron to hit the boy, but one of the tenants in the plaza held his hand and asked ‘Why will you use this iron on the small boy?’ and collected the iron from him,” he added.
- CCT chairman boasted that he can jail security guard for 50 years
Continuing, Omala said, “At the point all of us were trying to calm the situation down, he (Umar) was telling us that he is a judge, that he will send the boy away to prison for 50 years and nobody on earth can stop him, that even if God came down, nothing would happen. He now sent his driver to go and bring the DSS and other people that were working under him. When the DSS arrived, they even joined us in appealing to the judge to leave the boy but he refused.”
According to Omala, even though the security guard was the one being victimised, people present during the incident, including the policemen, advised him to kneel down and beg Umar for forgiveness, just to settle the matter.
Sargwak did as advised, but the judge refused to budge and carried on with the assault.
Omala said, “One of the policemen attached to the judge suggested that, to resolve the matter, the security guard should kneel down and beg the judge and render an apology. Ordinarily, the boy was not the one at fault, but the idea was for him to apologise so that the matter would be settled. Moreover, when the man introduced himself as a judge, we felt that he was one of the leaders in the country and as such we should not be having any problems with him. We just wanted to resolve the matter amicably. But as the boy was begging him, he (Umar) asked one of his aides to slap him and the aide now slapped him. We thought the slap was a way of reprimanding the boy before they would leave him, but he (Umar) now came forward and kicked the boy on the face with his shoe and injured his lips. The boy’s lips was torn by the impact of the kick. The boy now fell to the ground and people who were observing started shouting ‘Do you want to kill this boy in the plaza here?”
According to Omala, the CCT chairman later invited the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of the Maitama Police Station to the plaza. Eventually, all the parties involved went to the Maitama Police Station.
Omala went along with Sargwak.
He added, “When we got there, we narrated what happened and the police said the matter was not a serious issue and should be settled amicably. The DPO asked us to go outside and I don’t know what else he discussed with the judge. We were taken to the Criminal Department where we were asked to write statements. I wrote a statement and the security guard also wrote. After that, our lawyer came and they allowed us to go with our lawyer.”
Omala said had not contacted him again since then.
- Technician arrested and detained by police for picking up Umar’s phone while judge was assaulting security guard
However, Omala informed The ICIR that a phone technician, one Peter Onyike from Benue State, was arrested and detained by the Police for picking up the CCT chairman’s phone when it fell down during the incident.
“He is still in the cell. All I know about the matter is when the judge was beating the boy, his phone fell from his hands and the boy picked it up. When things calmed down a bit, we started asking about the phone. The phone number was dialled and the boy now brought the phone and presented it to the judge,” Omala said.
Omala claimed that the boy did not mean to steal the phone.
“He only picked up the phone so that people will not step on it and damage it during the melee. If he had wanted to go away with the phone, he would have left with it before they started looking for it. He was the one that picked it up and he returned it himself. Nobody knew he was with the phone so he could have left with it if he wanted to steal the phone,” the supervisor said.
He explained that the technician was arrested outside the plaza, while he was about to cross the road.
Omala further informed The ICIR that the management of the security outfit was monitoring developments in the matter.
- Pressure mounts for CCT chairman’s removal, prosecution
Members of the National Association of Seadogs (NAS), on Tuesday, staged a protest at the headquarters of the CCT to demand Umar’s removal from office.
The ICIR reported that members of the association carried placards with inscriptions such as: ‘We demand Equity and Justice,’ ‘Sack CCT Chairman Now,’ ‘Say No to Elite Oppression,’ ‘Say No to Judicial Tyrants,’ ‘CCT Chairman Must Go,’ ‘Arrest and Prosecute CCT Chairman’ and several others.
Some civil society organisations, including Concerned Nigerians (CN), had earlier demanded Umar’s removal and prosecution. The group said it was shocked that Umar denied perpetrating the assault despite the video evidence.
The Nigerian Bar Association had also said it would investigate the incident.
The association vowed that, depending on its findings, it would ensure that appropriate action was taken to address the matter.