Outrage over planned removal, trial of CJN Onnoghen

Posted by News Express | 13 January 2019 | 1,660 times

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•CJN Walter Onnoghen

The Federal Government’s planned arraignment of the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, was greeted with massive pushback by senior lawyers, politicians and human right groups, warning government of the grave implications of such an action.

With the 2019 elections just a little over 30 days away, the announcement of the impending trial of the CJN over non-declaration of asset sent shockwaves which reverberated across the country as many prominent politicians including former Vice President and presidential candidate of the leading opposition, Party, PDP Atiku Abubakar condemning the move.

This is coming as over 150 seniors lawyers are mobilising themselves to defend the Chief Justice on Monday, before the Justice Danladi Yakubu led-Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).\

Constitutional lawyer, Sebastine Hon, SAN on Saturday said the number of eminent lawyers that have volunteered to defend the CJN might even be more than 150.

The attempt to sack the chief justice of Nigeria is a cold reminiscence of the constitutional crisis that ensued in Pakistan in 2007 when the military President Pervez Musharraf, unceremoniously fired the Chief Justice of Pakistan whose rulings had begun to challenge the Musharraf government. Outraged Pakistani lawyers and others poured into the streets, setting off an unprecedented outburst of frustration that signalled the most serious challenge that General Musharraf had to deal with. The CJ was eventually reinstated. The protests weakened his presidency eventually leading to his resignation to avoid impeachment in 2008.

The former vice president warned President Muhammadu Buhari and the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) to refrain from throwing Nigeria into an avoidable crisis over the move. In a statement issued on Saturday in Abuja by Atiku’s Special Assistant on Public Communication, Mr. Phrank Shaibu, the PDP candidate said the principle of separation of powers remained sacrosanct in a democracy irrespective of what Buhari was being told by his advisers or the buttons being pressed to forcefully remove the CJN.

Atiku said the plot to sack Onnoghen was a pre-emptive move against the bench in the face of imminent defeat and knowing the role the judiciary plays in the final outcome of elections.

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) also reacted strongly late last night to the application filed by the Code of Conduct Bureau to the Code of Conduct Tribunal Chairman for the trial to commence against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.

In a statement issued on behalf of the body by its president, Paul Usoro (SAN), it condemned the targeted assault of the judiciary by agents of the Federal Government.

Excerpted from a THISDAY report

Source: News Express

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