In a move calculated to enforce a constitutional restriction on public officials from membership of secret cults, the Nigerian government on Tuesday dragged a local council chairman before the code of conduct tribunal for allegedly being a member of national association of Buccaneers.
Mr. Emil Lemke Inyang, chairman of Biase local government council of Cross Rivers state, however denied the allegation and pleaded not guilty to the charge.
He also challenged the jurisdiction of the conduct tribunal to entertain his trial over the charge and filed in an application claiming that the tribunal did not follow due process in bringing him to trial.
Mr. Iyang also argued that the Code of Conduct Bureau did not invite him to admit or deny the allegation before dragging him to the tribunal for trial and considered such act as unconstitutional. He therefore pleaded with the tribunal to quash the as being incompetent.
The tribunal however declined to acquiesce to his request and held that it has jurisdiction to entertain the matter so far as he is a public officer. It held that it has the mandate to try public officers that breach public code of conduct and that the accused person is a public officer because he is a council chairman.
The tribunal also held that the charge is not defective and cannot be struck out. It also noted that the Code of Conduct Bureau and Code of Conduct Tribunal Act is to regulate the conduct of public officers in Nigeria and to check corruption in all ramifications and is not bound to invite any suspect to its office to admit or deny any allegation.
The charge reads: “that you, Emil Lemke Inyang (m) on or about 28th day of December, 2007, while being chairman of Biase local government of Cross Rivers state, registered and enrolled into a society known as “National Association of Buccaneers” which membership is incompatible with the function and dignity of your office and therefore committed an offense contrary to Section 14 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act,cap 15, LFN, 2004 and punishable under Section 23 of the same Act”. The tribunal fixed 7 November for trial.