👤 By Danjuma Aliyu, Editorial Director, DENISAURUS News
A lawyer consulted by DENISAURUS News has criticised the Federal Government’s decision to prosecute a sitting Chief Justice, days before the General Elections.
The legal practitioner, who has over 20 years’ experience at the bar, and has links with high calibres of Senior Advocates in Nigeria, SANs, explained that the National Judicial Council, which is charged with the responsibility to discipline of erring judges should have been allowed to try Justice Walter Onoghen first.
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But since the NJC was not allowed to do so, the Federal Government’s lawyer Abubakar Malami, has “already shot himself in the foot by rushing to the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.”
The decision to file a case against the CJN days before the February 16, Presidential election is seen as “a badly thought up idea.”
“No case against him until the NJC tries him,” DENISAURUS News was informed. An argument about the timing and the jurisdiction of the court was also made to the paper.
“This does not even make any sense to be prosecuting the CJN over asset declaration at this time when we are days away from the General Elections.
“It is sign of how desperate this government has become in its attempt to stay in power.”
Breaking down the narrative of the desperation for power, it is deemed that if Justice Onoghen is removed another northerner would replace him, who would do the bidding of the President Muhammadu Buhari should in case he loses this election and takes the matter to the Supreme Court.
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As at the time of publishing this news, the trial against Justice Onoghen had been adjourned to January 22.
The lawyer speaking to this paper, decided to do so on the condition of anonymity because they might be called to join the defence team later on.
Other prominent lawyers, including a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, have also expressed similar opinion to the one shared to reporters of this paper.
Olisa Agbakoba, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a constitutional law specialist argued that it is “outrageous to even suggest that a CJN can be arraigned at all on any grounds as the constitutional procedure clearly specified that the CJN will have a charge laid before the Senate for misconduct or the NJC, which is also empowered to take disciplinary action.
“The courts have stated very clearly that the NJC is charged with the sole responsibility for disciplinary action against judges in addition to powers conferred on the Senate.
“It is therefore unconstitutional to charge the CJN before a CCT, whether guilty or not.”