Falana, Ozehkome, Exchange Words Over Ex-CJN Onnoghen’s Case

Two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) Femi Falana and Mike Ozekhome on Tuesday disagreed over lawyers’ reaction to the removal of immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen.

They both exchanged words during the Rule of Law Session of the 59th Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Annual General Conference (AGC) in Lagos.

Ozekhome berated lawyers for not pouring out on the streets and shutting down the government to protest Onnoghen’s prosecution and conviction by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

READ ALSO: Court Declines To Hear Sowore’s Application Challenging Detention By DSS

He made reference to the case of President Pervez Mushraf who on March 9, 2007, according to him, unjustly and unconstitutionally removed Muhammed Mushraf as the Chief Justice.

“Can’t we do more than we have done”? Ozekhome questioned. He also faulted the NBA for not coming out to protest during Onnoghen’s removal.

In a swift reaction, Falana said the Chief Justice of Pakistan was not removed for corruption as in the case of Onnoghen.

He questioned the former president of the NBA Olisa Agbakoba saying, “Olisa, can the NBA morally go to the street to fight for judges who have millions that they cannot account for in their account?”

Minority Leader of the Senate, Eyinnaya Abaribe had earlier decried President Muhammadu Buhari’s removal of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen from the Supreme Court.

Abaribe blamed the Nigerian Bar Association and fellow judges for not taking action and remaining silent knowing fully well that a Chief Justice cannot be removed without coming to the Senate.

“In the matter of Onnoghen, what happened? We waited for the NBA, nothing happened? We waited for the fellow judges nothing happened. Because the law is very clear, you cannot remove a Chief Justice without coming to the senate yet, it happened, and nothing happened.”

The former President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba also at the event said Onnoghen’s removal would serve as a reference point in the future. He also appreciated Senator Abaribe for “telling us the truth.”

President Buhari Accepts Onnoghen’s Voluntary Retirement

Court Strikes Out Onnoghens Appeal Against CCT Judgement

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has accepted the voluntary retirement from service of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

The Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, confirmed this in a statement on Sunday, adding that the retirement took effect from May 28, 2019.

According to Mr Shehu, the President thanked Justice Onnoghen for his service to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and wished him the best of retirement life.

President Buhari was also said to have written to the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Tanko Muhammad, on the appointment of five additional Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

Read the full statement below.

STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

PRESIDENT BUHARI WRITES ACTING CJN ON APPOINTMENT OF FIVE JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME COURT

President Muhammadu Buhari has written the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Tanko Muhammad, on the appointment of additional five Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

The President wrote: Pursuant to the provisions of Section 230(2) A&B of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), I am pleased to request that you initiate in earnest the process of appointing additional five Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria to make the full complement of 21 Justices as provided by the aforementioned provisions of the Constitution.

This is in line with the Governments Agenda of repositioning the Judiciary in general and Supreme Court in particular for greater efficiency, with a view to reducing the backlogs of appeals pending at the Supreme Court.

Please accept, your Lordship, the assurances of my highest regards.

Meanwhile, President Buhari has accepted the voluntary retirement from service of Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria, effective from May 28, 2019.

The President thanked Justice Onnoghen for his service to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and wished him the best of retirement life.

Garba Shehu

Senior Special Assistant to the President

(Media & Publicity)

June 9, 2019

Court Strikes Out Suit Challenging Onnoghen’s Suspension

Court Strikes Out Onnoghen’s Appeal Against CCT Judgement
Justice Walter Onnoghen

 

The Supreme Court has struck out an application by the Cross River State Government challenging the suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

The court on Friday said it lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter and consequently dismissed the application.

READ ALSO: Court Strikes Out Suit Challenging Defection Of Saraki, Dogara And Others

Justice Onnoghen was suspended in January, by an order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Following his suspension, the Cross Rivers State Government approached the Supreme Court asking it to invoke section 232 (1) of the constitution to assume original jurisdiction on the matter, citing violations of the constitutional provisions in the suspension.

But in its lead judgement, the Supreme Court agreed with the submissions of the Federal Government that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

However, in a dissenting judgement, Justice Mary Odili held that the suspension did not follow laid down procedure as stipulated by law, insisting that the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

Appeal Court To Deliver Judgment In Onnoghen’s Appeal Today

 

The Court of Appeal has has fixed Friday to deliver judgement in the various appeals filed by the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

Justice Onnoghen had filed various appeals concerning his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal where he was tried and convicted for false asset charges.

READ ALSO: Onnoghen’s Conviction ‘A Major Victory’ For Anti-Corruption War, Says Presidency

It is not clear which of the appeals pending at the appeal court will be decided on Friday, but some of the appeals before the appellate court include an appeal against the decision of the chairman of the tribunal mister , Danladi Umar, who refused to recuse himself from the matter on allegation of bias by justice Onnoghen.

Justice Onnoghen is also challenging the legality of his trial at the CCT.

He is also challenging the order of the tribunal which instructed the president to suspend him from office, an order President Muhammadu Buhari relied on to suspend the chief justice.

Onnoghen Ought To Have Resigned Earlier, Says Professor Tahir

The Vice Chancellor of Baze University, Professor Maman Tahir.

 

The Vice Chancellor of Baze University, Professor Maman Tahir, has reacted to the reported resignation of suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.

Appearing on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Friday, he stated that one expected Justice Onnoghen to have resigned his position earlier following his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

“There is some element of inevitability in what has happened. The way the Onnoghen saga has been going on, one actually had expected him to have taken this decision much earlier,” he stated

Tahir, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), regretted that the trial of Justice Onnoghen over alleged false declaration of assets at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), would not have been in the public domain should he had relinquished his position earlier.

READ ALSO: Justice Onnoghen Reportedly Resigns

While noting that the reported resignation of the suspended CJN has not been officially confirmed, he however said if truly Justice Onnoghen has finally quit his position, the development is coming quite late.

“If it is true (that Justice Onnoghen resigned) because it has not been officially confirmed yet, my fear is that it may be a bit late in the day for him because he should have come before or after the NJC met and took a decision on him.

“Now coming after becomes a bit of a matter of discretion whether to accept or not to accept. We are not privy to the details of Mr President but obviously from reports, it’s like the President has been advised to get him removed from office.

“But whether the decision to resign will be effective is a complication for him because normally in public service, if disciplinary process is on, and then an officer does not resign before a decision is taken, it becomes a matter of discretion whether to accept or reject that decision on his part,” he added.

Justice Onnoghen Reportedly Resigns

Onnoghen: Foreign Interference In Nigeria’s Internal Affairs Is 'Insulting' – FG
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen (file)

 

There may be a new twist in the trial of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen as there are reports that the embattled CJN may have resigned his position.

Justice Onnoghen reportedly sent his resignation letter to the president on Thursday, barely 24 hours after the national judicial council concluded investigation on various allegations of misconduct levelled against him.

However, there has been no official statement from the presidency on the matter yet.

The embattled CJN is standing trial at the code of conduct tribunal on a six-count of alleged failure to declare his assets to the code of conduct bureau. He has however denied the allegations.

READ ALSO: Onnoghen Closes His Case At CCT

The NJC on Wednesday had conveyed their decision on Justice Onnoghen and the Acting CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad after the five-man committee constituted to investigate the allegations against them submitted their findings.

The NJC, however, did not disclose its recommendations regarding both justices but it is believed that the council may have recommended the resignation of Justice Onnoghen.

According to statement from NJC’s director of information Soji Oye, the council had resolved that, by the nature of the decision reached, it would be inappropriate to publicise it before conveying it to the president.

Onnoghen To Open Defence At CCT Today

Onnoghen: Foreign Interference In Nigeria’s Internal Affairs Is 'Insulting' – FG
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen (file)

 

The Code of Conduct Tribunal has resumed sitting in the trial of Justice Walter Onnoghen for alleged non-declaration of assets.

The tribunal had on Friday dismissed Justice Onnoghen’s no-case submission, insisting he had a case to answer and ordered him to open his defence on Monday.

At the resumed sitting, Justice Onnoghen’s counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, said the proceedings from Friday’s hearing had not been made available to the defence.

He requested that a witness, Miss Theresa Nwafor of the Code of Conduct Bureau should be subpoenaed to appear as a witness for the CJN.

READ ALSO: No-Case Submission: Onnoghen Files Notice Of Appeal Against CCT Ruling

The witness is the Director of the CCB in Benin.

Mr Awomolo also informed the chairman that he ought to rule on his application before any other thing, a position the prosecution counsel did not object to.

In his ruling, the chairman of the tribunal granted the request and ordered her to be at the tribunal on Wednesday by 10 am.

Meanwhile, a second witness Lawal Busari had taken the witness stand on behalf of Justice Onnoghen.

More to follow…

CCT Dismisses No-Case Submission By Suspended CJN

Second Prosecution Witness Testifies In Onnoghen’s Trial At CCT
Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen (file)

 

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has ruled that the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has a case to answer in his ongoing trial over alleged false assets declaration.

Despite pleas for further adjournment, Chairman of the CCT, Danladi Umar, insisted that Justice Onnoghen must enter his defence on Monday, April 1.

The development follows the resumed trial in Abuja during which the counsels to the Federal Government and Justice Onnoghen argued their positions on the no-case submission for one hour, 45 minutes.

Onnoghen’s counsel, Mr Adegboyega Awomolo, accused the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) of not following its standard procedures in instituting the case against the suspended CJN.

READ ALSO: Prosecution Closes Case Against Onnoghen Before CCT

According to him, the highest authorities at the CCB were not consulted before the charge was filed at the CCT.

But the prosecution counsel, Mr Aliyu Umar, insisted that the CCB Act cannot override the powers of the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, as enshrined in the constitution.

He stated that the suspended CJN has a case to answer because he has been operating the account since 2009 and didn’t declare it since then.

CCT Fixes Feb 4 For Justice Onnoghen’s Trial

Tribunal Not Bound To Obey High, Industrial Court Orders – CCT Chairman
Justice Umar Danladi Justice Walter Onnoghen

 

The Code of Conduct Tribunal has fixed February 4 for the resumption of alleged non-asset declaration trial against Justice Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria. 

This was contained in a statement issued on Thursday by Ibraheem Al-Hassan, the Heads, (Press & Public Relations), Code of Conduct Tribunal.

READ ALSO: Onnoghen’s Suspension: Rule Of Law, Constitution Must Be Respected, CCJA Insists

Below is the full statement.


“Press Statement

Conduct Tribunal Fixes 4th February for resumption of alleged Non asset declaration trial against Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen.

Following Court of Appeal ruling yesterday on the trial against Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Onnoghen Nkanu Walter, on alleged non declaration of asset before Code of Conduct Tribunal is hereby fixed for Monday, 4th of February, 2019.

The decision was reached today sequel to a correspondent from Code of Conduct Bureau, applying for the resumption of trial of the case captioned; Application for resumption of trial of the case of FRN V. Hon. Justice Onnoghen Nkanu Walter Samuel case No: CCT/ABJ/01/19, addressed to Hon. Chairman Code of Conduct Tribunal, dated 30th January, 2019, jointly signed by Musa Ibrahim Usman (Esq) and Fatima Danjuma Ali (Esq).

The request reads in part; “The above subject refers. This case came up for hearing of preliminary objection to the jurisdiction of the Tribunal on the 28th of January, 2019 but the Tribunal could not proceed due to the tendency of the case at the Court of Appeal.

“However, in the wake of this afternoon, 30th January, 2019 the Court of Appeal has thrown out the appeal.

“Consequently on the above, we urge the Honourable Tribunal to give us a date for resumption of the trial subject to the convenience of the Tribunal, Most obliged my Lord.

Ibraheem Al-Hassan,
Heads, (Press & Public Relations),
Code of Conduct Tribunal Headquarters,
Abuja.
January 31st, 2019.”


The CCT’s latest step comes barely a day after an Appeal Court in Abuja dismissed a suit filed by the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, seeking a stay of execution on his on-going trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Ruling on the matter, Justice Abdul Aboki rejected the appeal, saying that the injunction is spent and the case at the CCT can continue.

The appellate court held that Justice Onnoghen’s application runs contrary to section 306 of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act 2015 (ACJA).

Justice Aboki who read the lead ruling cited a case of Dr Bukola Saraki in which Justice Onnoghen himself at the Supreme Court declined to stay trial of Saraki on the same ground that section 306 of the new law, did not permit the stay of criminal trial.

CJN Onnoghen Denies Resigning

Walter Onnoghen Sworn-In As Chief Justice Of Nigeria
Justice Walter Onnoghen

 

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen has denied media reports that he has resigned following his suspension by President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to a statement by his media aide, Awassam Bassey, the CJN described as ‘Fake News’ all reports suggesting that he has resigned.

“Mischief makers are still circulating this fake news. Once again, no truth in it whatsoever. The Hon CJN, Hon Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, GCON, has not resigned”, Awassam Bassey said.

READ ALSO: Agbakoba Submits Petition Against Acting CJN, Tanko Mohammed

There have been several speculations regarding Justice Onnoghen case at the Code Of Conduct Bureau.

President Buhari suspended Justice Onnoghen on Friday, January 25, Justice Tanko Mohammed was sworn in to serve as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.

The President’s move has since generated diverse reactions across the country and even in the international community.

Okowa Faults Onnoghen’s Suspension, Says Due Process Was Not Followed

 

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has faulted the suspension of the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a recent interview on Roadmap 2019 which aired on Channels Television on Monday, the governor said due process was not followed.

“I am not a lawyer but I know that from recent judicial pronouncements, anything involved in officers of that caliber or officers within the judiciary is supposed to first be tried by the National Judicial Council (NJC) for processes, a further process for prosecution,” he said.

“This process was not followed through and there are court decisions on that. And that appears to be ignored. You will realise that for several years, no person from the South-South has got to that position of authority. It is important that we speak out for one of our own. We say follow the due process if the court pronouncement has said that this is the process that we ought to undertake.”

READ ALSO: President Buhari Suspends Onnoghen, Swears In Mohammed As Acting CJN

Okowa also revealed that himself and other governors were worried because the laid down processes were not adhered to.

President Buhari suspended Justice Onnoghen on Friday and appointment Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed as the acting CJN.

According to the President, the development was based on the request of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, pending the completion of Onnoghen’s trial.

Justice Tanko Mohammed who hails from Bauchi State is the most senior justice of the Supreme Court.

Onnoghen’s Suspension: President Buhari Has Done No Wrong – Garba Shehu

 

The Presidency has said that President Muhammadu Buhari contravened no law as amended in the constitution with regards to the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen. 

Mr Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, said this on Sunday during his appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

Garba said the President has done no wrong by taking an action and making a decision based on the advice of a competent court of law.

“The President acted on a directive by a court of law recognised by our own constitution, and so, therefore, our President has done no wrong,” he argued.

The President’s aide said our laws should be allowed to work.

READ ALSO: Falana Calls For Justice Onnoghen’s Resignation

He went on to say that, “It’s a settled matter, I am not even sure that investigation is warranted in this circumstance because there is an admission”.

Garba also noted that it is wrong to see Onnoghen’s Suspension as political intimidation of anyone.

“The President needs not to intimidate anyone because in any case, he has no case before any judge,” Garba said.

He said Nigerians are just concerned that President Buhari is not doing this (Onnoghen’s Suspension) in a very nice way, asking, “Are we concerned about nicety or doing the right thing?”

The presidential spokesman also said that those people who are saying that the nation is drifting into a dictatorship, “have fallen into amnesia”.

He argued that they have forgotten what actually is a dictatorship, saying that if the nation had fallen into despotism then many who have openly threatened the President on Onnoghen’s case will not be talking and walking free.