The NBA urges the FGN to discontinue charges against the CJN


The NBA has today the 12th of February 2019 called upon the FG to discontinue the charges against the CJN at the CCT. Details of the statement are contained below.

FRN V ONNOGHEN – CODE
OF CONDUCT TRIBUNAL

  1. Ahead of the adjourned proceedings in the above-named matter before the
    Code of Conduct Tribunal (“CCT”), scheduled for tomorrow, 13 February 2019, the Nigerian Bar Association again urges the Executive arm of the Federal Government
    of Nigeria (“FGN”) to discontinue this Charge against the Chief Justice of Nigeria,
    Honorable Mr. Justice Walter S N Onnoghen, GCON (“CJN”) for the following reasons, amongst others:
    a. First, as widely reported, one of the two petitions against the CJN that is
    currently before the National Judicial Council (“NJC” or “Council”) is an exact
    replica of the petition that motivated the CCT Charge. The second petition was reportedly presented by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
    (“EFCC”), an FGN agency. We commend the FGN for adhering to due process
    by submitting the EFCC petition to the NJC for consideration. In like manner
    and in adherence to the law and due process, we urge the FGN to discontinue
    the CCT Charge and allow the NJC consider the initial petition which, as
    widely reported, has already been responded to by the CJN.
    b. Second, the Chairman of the CCT, Hon. Danladi Umar, in his response to a
    petition that was written against him and which was forwarded to him by the
    Federal Judicial Service Commission, states emphatically that he and his
    Tribunal are answerable and report only to the Presidency. An insistence, in
    the circumstance, on the CJN, the head of an independent arm of the FGN,
    standing trial before a Tribunal whose Chairman sees himself and his
    Tribunal as being under and answerable to the Presidency only, mocks the
    concept of and completely erodes the independence of the judiciary and the
    constitutional separation that should exist between the three arms of the FGN.
    It is precisely for this reason that our Constitution created the NJC to remove
    any misperception and we are pleased that the FGN has warmed up to the
    utilization of that due process, as illustrated by the submission of the EFCC
    petition to the Council.
    c. Third, and complementary to the two points afore-stated is the fact that the
    spectacle of having our CJN, while still holding that title, in the dock before
    the CCT or any other Court, truly diminishes all of us, not least the Executive
    arm of the FGN. The NJC process allows an initial determination to be made
    on the petitions against the CJN and if His Lordship is found liable or wanting
    howsoever, appropriate sanctions would be imposed by the NJC including
    recommendation for his dismissal or retirement. In that event, he would no
    longer hold the office or title of CJN and could be prosecuted for any criminal
    infraction before the CCT or any other Court. An insistence on the CCT
    prosecution paints a picture of persecution of the CJN by the Executive and
    such a spectacle in no way ennobles the FGN Executive arm and/or its
    officials. Such a scenario should be avoided by all means.
  2. Given these non-exhaustive considerations and facts, we press on the
    Executive arm of the FGN to please discontinue the Charge against the CJN when
    the matter comes up before the CCT tomorrow, Wednesday, 13 February 2019. We respectfully urge full compliance with due process by FGN in this matter by allowing the NJC process to take its course in respect of the two petitions against the CJN –a step that has already, commendably, been embraced by FGN in respect of the EFCC petition.
    Paul Usoro
    President

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