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NBA Kicks As CJN Onnoghen’s Trial Resumes on Tuesday

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NBA Kicks As CJN Onnoghen’s Trial Resumes on Tuesday

NBA Kicks As CJN Onnoghen’s Trial Resumes on Tuesday

The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has again advised the Federal Government to discontinue the trial of Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen.

In a statement released yesterday, January 21, the NBA Chairman, Mr Paul Usoro, SAN, urged the Federal Government to follow due process in the trial, even as he accused the latter of sinister and unconstitutional moves to remove the CJN.

Usoro stated that for a Judicial Officer to be prosecuted, the National Judicial Council, NJC, must have investigated the allegations levelled against such an officer, and upon indictment recommend such officer to the prosecuting agencies.

“Having become 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,” said Usoro.

Usoro accused the Federal government of contravening Section 292(1)(a)(i) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), stressing that CJN cannot be removed through the application of interlocutory injunction at the Code of Conduct Tribunal as being done by Federal government.

“The Section is very explicit on the due process for the CJN’s removal when it stipulates as follows: S.292(1)(a)(i) ‘A judicial officer shall not be removed from his office or appointment before his age of retirement except in the following circumstances… in the case of… Chief Justice of Nigeria… by the President acting on an address supported by… two-thirds majority of the Senate.

“The choice is therefore that of FGN to make – either to pursue the removal of the CJN pursuant to Section 292(1)(a)(i) of the Constitution or report the alleged assets declaration infraction to the NJC for its consideration as a pre-condition for the possible prosecution of the CJN,” Usoro asseretd.

According to him, whichever option the FG wants to follow in removing the CJN: two-third majority from senate or NJC; it must halt the CCT trial of Onnoghen, reiterating that the trial violates established judicial precedents.

Onnoghen was first arraigned on January 14, on a 6-count charge bordering on non-declaration of assets and operating foreign currency domiciliary accounts in Nigeria.

The charges were filed on January 10, 2019, by the Code of Conduct Bureau following a petition from Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative, ARDI.

Investigations by FIRST REPORTS revealed that the Executive-Secretary of the anticorruption group, Mr Dennis Aghanya was an aide to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Mr Aghanya said the group acted as a whistle-blower after thoroughly investigating the CJN.

At the commencement of Onnoghen’s trial, January 14, Justice Danladi Umar of CCT adjourned the case to January 22, after it was established that the prosecution counsel led by Alhaji Aliyu Umar failed to serve the charges to the person of the CJN.

On January 16, the summons were officially served to the person of Walter Onnoghen at his Supreme Court office in Abuja.

However, the coast may not have been cleared for the resumption of the trial as Federal High Court, Abuja and National Industrial Court had granted an interim injunction barring the CCT from proceeding with Onnoghen’s trial.

Opinions have been sharply divided on whether due process had been legally followed in the trial with the ruling party, APC, maintaining that nobody should be above the law.

When asked to comment on the CJN’s trial, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo at an Online Publishers Conference in Abuja said it was sad that the trial even commenced in the first place, dismissing insinuations that President Muhammadu Buhari is behind the CJN travails.

The Vice President’s assertion was quickly rebuffed by Peoples Democratic Party and former President, Olusegun Obasanjo.

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NBA Kicks As CJN Onnoghen’s Trial Resumes on Tuesday

NBA Kicks As CJN Onnoghen’s Trial Resumes on Tuesday

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