The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has thrown its support to the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria , Justice Walter Onnoghen from office by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Justice Onnoghen’s suspension which followed a petition against him for not declaring his asset to the Code of Conduct Bureau has been generating mixed reactions among Nigerians .
However, The ACF in a communique signed by its Secretary- General, Anthony Sani, after a meeting in Kaduna on Wednesday, condemns the conduct of Justice Onnoghen, particularly his refusal to step aside and allow due process of the law to take its course.
The Northern group said by his action, the former CJN has created the impression that his personal interests in the matter super-cedes that of the judiciary and the nation.
The forum further called on law enforcement agencies to carry out their professional duties against the CJN in a manner that will not give room to partisanship.
The statement reads ” The ACF notes that the allegation against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, are that he failed to comply with the expressed provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act, to wit, failure to declare his assets on assumption of office as Justice of the Supreme Court and as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“That when he was made to declare his assets as demanded by law, he failed to declare all of them. That among the assets he failed to declare are bank accounts in local and foreign currencies whose values run in millions of Naira.
“He also failed to declare other assets, including many houses and other landed property. That subsequent investigations have continued to unearth other property belonging to Justice Onnoghen, not declared.
“That Hon. Justice Onnoghen was said to have told investigators that the reason for his not declaring those assets was forgetfulness.
” Following the discovery of these infractions, the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, swiftly referred the matter to the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT. Which made an order for the temporary suspension of the CJN in the interest of natural justice. However, this action by the CCT has provoked intense controversy.
“And yet, from a reading of all the facts of the matter, ACF cannot defend the position taken by the Hon. Justice Onnoghen, especially his insistence that he should first be tried by the National Judicial Council, of which he is Chairman. To do so would have allowed him the seat in judgment over his own case.”
“On their part, law enforcement agencies must strive to always execute their tasks in neat and professional manner in order to avoid creating perceptions of partisanship,” it said, adding that “In the end, Nigeria cannot hope to develop and take its rightful place in the comity of nations unless and until we learn to respect our laws and enforce them fairly and consistently.”