NBA Asks FG to Retrace Its Steps Over Onnoghen’s Prosecution
The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) has called on the federal government to retrace its steps over the trial of Walter Onnoghen, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN).
The association, in a statement signed by Paul Usoro, its president, said dues process must be followed and rule of law upheld.
The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) had filed a six-count charge of false assets declaration against Onnoghen after a petition by the Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI).
“Ahead of the scheduled resumption of proceedings at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (“CCT”) tomorrow, 22 January 2019, the Nigerian Bar Association again calls on the Executive Branch of the Federal Government of Nigeria (“FGN”) to discontinue forthwith the prosecution of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (“CJN”), Honorable Mr. Justice Walter S N Onnoghen, GCON before the CCT,” the statement read.
“Now that it is obvious that the immediate goal of the Executive is to remove the CJN from office, we urge the Government to follow due process in attaining that goal,” the statement read.
“Due process is not followed when the Executive Branch of the FGN files an Interlocutory Motion before the Code of Conduct Tribunalfor the removal of the CJN. Such an application disparages, and assaults due process as enshrined in Section 292(1)(a)(i) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) (“the Constitution”).
“The Constitution leaves no room howsoever for the removal of the CJN from office, whether on a temporary or permanent basis, other than through the process afore-quoted. Being a country governed by laws, the FGN owes us a duty to comply strictly with these provisions of the Constitution for the removal of the CJN. We therefore urge the Executive Branch of the Federal Government to please retrace its steps and discontinue the entire proceedings before the CCT forthwith and follow the constitutional procedure afore-stipulated.”
NBA said it still stands by its previous statement that established judicial precedents dictate that the allegations must be referred to and handled by the National Judicial Council (NJC) and it is only after the NJC’s pronouncement thereon against the CJN can the federal government prosecuting agencies proceed against him before any tribunal or court of law.
The lawyers said the trial constitutes an assault on due process and destroys the justice sector.
The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) had called for respect of the constitution, separation of powers and the proper administration of justice.
Although the national industrial court in Abuja had given an order restraining the arrest of Onnoghen, the government had asked that his accounts be frozen.
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