Ahead of Wednesday’s proceedings at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the Nigerian Bar Association has once again called on the Federal Government to discontinue the charges of non-declaration of assets filed against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
In a statement issued by its President, Mr Paul Usoro (SAN), on Tuesday, the NBA commended the Federal Government for adhering to due process by submitting the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) petition against Justice Onnoghen to the National Judicial Council (NJC) for consideration.
The association, however, urged the government to allow the NJC conclude investigations into the two petitions so far instituted against Onnoghen at the Council, in adherence to the law and due process.
The NJC on Monday, February 11, 2019, gave Justice Onnoghen seven working days to respond to the EFCC petition against him before adjourning its sitting till Wednesday, February 13, 2019.
During Wednesday’s the sitting, the NJC is expected to review a report of its pre-assessment committee on the petitions against Justice Onnoghen and the acting CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad.
The NBA said, “Given these nonexhaustive 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.”
A similar demand had also been made by a constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), who condemned the suspension of the CJN.
Last week, he wrote to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, arguing that since a petition had been submitted to the NJC alleging grave misconduct against Onnoghen, it was unconstitutional to continue with his trial at the CCT.
Falana said, “The charge should not be allowed to hang like a Sword of Damocles on the head of the Chief Justice while he is being investigated by the National Judicial Council.”
According to him, “A public officer cannot be removed from office on the basis of an ex parte order granted by any court or tribunal in Nigeria, we (therefore) urge you (the AGF) to advise President Buhari to reverse the suspension of the Chief Justice.”