Onnoghen’s Suspension: Both Executive And Judiciary Have Failed Nigerians — Falana

 

 

Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Human Rights Activist, has said that both the Executive and the Judiciary arms of government have failed Nigerians with regards to the case of Justice Walter Onnoghen. 

Falana who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today said this is a most trying period for the Judiciary of Nigeria.

The SAN said it was wrong for President Muhammadu Buhari to have suspended Justice Onnoghen based on an ex parte order of the code of conduct tribunal.

He said by so doing the President did not follow due process, stressing that the government must learn to respect due process.

“You can’t fight corruption without following due process,” Falana said.

READ ALSO: NJC To Hold Emergency Meeting On Monday Over Onnoghen’s Suspension

 

He argued that “The power to suspend a sitting Judge in Nigeria, including the Chief Justice, has to be on the recommendation of the NJC.”

He also noted that the procedure for dealing with a criminal case is as important as the trial itself.

Adding that “A government can never be in a hurry or allowed to engage in jungle justice for self-help”.

Falana also argued that the Court of Appeal cannot make an order restraining the CCT from performing what belongs to it exclusively.

He said that the manner in which the executive has gone about Onnoghen’s case is wrong, but also argued that the defence put up by the advocates of the Chief Justice do not meet the standard requirements of the law.

READ ALSO: Onnoghen’s Suspension: NBA To Hold NEC Meeting On Monday

Falana also asked Justice Walter Onnoghen to quit the bench, after the President has lifted the suspension of the Chief Justice.

He said, “The government should as a matter of urgency, lift the suspension on the Chief Justice since the Chief Justice as so much to on his own admitted that he did not declare his assets, he should do the needful by calling it quits“.

Falana said after the suspension has been lifted, the Chief Justice should quit the bench because he has already admitted that he failed in his duty to declare his asset as required by the constitution.

Senate To Reconvene Tuesday, Debate Onnoghen’s Suspension

BREAKING: Senate To Reconvene Tuesday, Debate Onnoghen's Suspension
A file photo of lawmakers at the Senate during plenary in Abuja. // Inset – Justice Walter Onnoghen.

 

The Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, Channels Television has confirmed.

A source in the National Assembly disclosed that the lawmakers would reconvene to discuss the suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

The source also confirmed that the National Assembly would hold a leadership meeting on Sunday over the matter.

The Lawmakers had during Thursday’s plenary adjourned sitting until February 19, after the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

READ ALSOActing CJN Swears In 250 Members Of General Election Tribunals

But the decision to reconvene next week followed the suspension of Justice Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday.

The President had thereafter appointed and sworn in Justice Tanko Mohammed as acting CJN.

He explained that decision to suspend Justice Onnoghen was at the request of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over allegations that he failed to declare his assets.

The suspension sparked mixed reactions from individuals and groups within and outside the country.

One of those who criticised the President was the Peoples Democratic People (PDP) which called on the National Assembly to take legislative actions against him.

Senate President Bukola Saraki also described Justice Onnoghen’s suspension as a “coup against democracy”, saying the President’s action was an over-reach of the powers in the Executive arm of government.

But the Presidency insisted that there was no political undertone in the suspension of the judge, stressing that it was purely about fighting corruption.

On his part, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Professor Itse Sagay, stated that the right thing to do was for any self-respecting judge accused of breaching the Constitution to step down until such case was cleared.

Meanwhile, the European Union has raised concern with Justice Onnoghen’s suspension and questioned the process and timing of the decision to suspend him.

Similarly, the United States government said the decision has weakened the determination of the government and political parties among others to ensure a process that would lead to credible elections in the country.

Onnoghen’s Suspension: I Am Solidly Behind Buhari, Says El-Rufai

 

Governor Nasir El-Rufai has said he is fully in support of President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to suspend Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen and appoint Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed as acting CJN. 

The Kaduna State governor made this stand clear in a tweet on Friday.

He said it is time actions and decisions are taken in Nigeria without ethnic or religious biases, adding that on the Buhari’s latest decision, he is “solidly” behind the President.

El-Rufai’s tweet reads thus: “SANITY NEEDS RESTORATION: About time this institutional gobbledygook and regionalization to justify admitted wrongdoing are confronted. Justice must not give way to legal gymnastics and absurd technicalities. I am solidly with PMB on this, as always!!”

Meanwhile, Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki has said that the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, is a “coup against democracy”.

In a statement on Friday, the Senate President said the move by President Muhammadu Buhari is an over-reach of the powers in the Executive arm of government.

Dr Saraki said Onnoghen’s suspension is a deliberate attempt to endanger Nigeria’s hard-won democracy.

Saraki said President Buhari’s action undermines the Nation’s judiciary, adding that it subverts the constitution, intimidates judges of all the courts of record, and creates uncertainty in the electoral process.

The legislator said Buhari has initiated a process the consequence of which no one can predict. “He has precipitated a Constitutional crisis,” Saraki said.

Third Force Gives Buhari Seven Days To Reinstate Onnoghen

 

The third force movement under the aegis of the Nigerian Intervention Movement (NIM), nim have given President Muhammadu Buhari seven days to reinstate the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen or face unprecedented mass action.

NIM being jointly led by a frontline civil right activist and legal icon, Dr Olisa Agbakoba SAN and the son of a former Prime Minister of Nigeria, Dr Tafawa Balewa views the suspension of the CJN and the swearing in of the justice Tanko Ibrahim Mohammed as a threat to Nigeria’s fledgeling democracy.

The group said it is putting President Buhari on a strong notice that at the end of seven days from today, if he fails to reinstate the CJN they will be compelled to mobilise a coalition forces of ni-Nigerian civil society and leaders of conscience across the country to confront the Buhari regime with an unprecedented mass action to save Nigeria’s democracy

READ ALSO: Onnoghen’s Suspension: Buhari Has Sent A Dangerous Signal To The Entire World — Saraki

A meeting of the coalition of forces against civilian dictatorship in Nigeria has been slated to hold on Thursday 31st January in Lagos to kick start a nationwide mobilisation to save democracy ahead of the 2019 elections.

Below is a full statement that contains the position of the third force move on the issue of Justice Onnoghen’s suspension.

“PRESS STATEMENT
Friday, 25th January 2019

NIM – ‘THIRD FORCE’ GIVES BUHARI SEVEN DAYS ULTIMATUM TO REINSTATE CJN

….. TO HOLD NATIONAL MOBILISATION MEETING IN LAGOS

The third force movement under the auspices of Nigeria Intervention Movement, NIM have given President Muhammadu Buhari seven days to reinstate the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen or face an unprecedented mass action from the third force movement and its allies until the President’s unpopular decision is rescinded

The NIM being jointly led by a frontline civil right activist and legal Icon, Dr Olisa Agbakoba SAN and the son of former prime minister of Nigeria, Dr Abduljalil Tafawa Balewa profoundly views the suspension of the CJN and the precipitate swearing in of the President’s Kinsman, Justice Tanko Ibrahim Mohammed as a threat to Nigeria’s fledgling democracy and the feasibility of the 2019 general elections as well a desperation to compromise all relevant Institutions of state ahead of the 2019 elections

By this statement, we wish to put President Buhari on a strong notice that at the end of seven days from today, if President Buhari fails to reinstate the CJN we shall be compelled to mobilise a Coalition Forces of Nigerian Civil society and leaders of conscience across the country to confront the Buhari regime with an unprecedented mass action to save Nigeria’s democracy

“We wish to assert that the action of the President today is subjudice, smacks of crass dictatorship and a setback for constitutional democracy in our country, just as it is a clear descent of civil rule to the dark days of military jackboot in Nigeria as recently alerted by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo and we in NIM, who fought with our lives to restore Nigeria’s current democracy, have vowed to resist the dastardly move of the Buhari regime to cage all institutions of State ahead of the 2019 elections, with every resources at our disposal”

The meeting of the coalition of forces against civilian dictatorship in Nigeria has been slated to hold on Thursday 31st January in Lagos to kick start a nationwide mobilisation to save democracy ahead of the 2019 elections

Mr Debo Adeniyi
Director, Media Bureau
Nigeria Intervention Movement, NIM”.

CJN’s Trial: ‘There Is A Rot In The Supreme Court’ — Robert Clarke

 

Robert Clarke, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) has said there is a rot within the Supreme Court. 

Chief Clarke made this assertion while reacting to issues regarding the allegations and planned arraignment of Justice Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).

Speaking about the intricacies of the CJN’s case, Clarke said there are two sides to the saga that is playing out, “the legal and the political” side.

According to the advocate, the legal side to the CJN’s case is that due process was not followed before taking him to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

He said, “One will not think that the Federal Government or the Attorney General is naive to know the position of the law as of today, before arraigning Onnoghen before the CC tribunal”.

Clarke said he took the matter to the Lagos High Court but was rejected, then he took it to the Court of Appeal, where a ‘profound’ finding as to the due process to be taken when you want to arraign a sitting Judge, should be.

He noted that according to law, the executive ‘can not and should not’ carry a judge who is still wearing the toga of a judge direct from his chambers straight to the court or tribunal without following due process.

“Being a judicial officer, the constitution has said that the only person or organisation that can question a sitting judge for any misconduct, and misconduct has been defined to include any felonious acts, that before you can do that, you must report him first to his pairs i.e the National Judicial Council (NJC) that looks after misconduct of judges,” the legal practitioner said.

READ ALSO: CJN’s Trial: Industrial Court Orders Substituted Service On CCT Chairman

Legal Practitioner, Mr Robert Clarke

Clarke further noted that until this process is followed and the judge is found guilty and disrobed, can he be taken to any court or tribunal.

“Until that aspect is done, and until he is found guilty, after that and after he has been disrobed as a judge, can you take him to any court or tribunal,” Clarke opined.

He said without going through the right channel, then the FG’s move against Onnoghen is an exercise in futility.

Speaking about the political side of the case, Chief Clarke said there is no other way the Federal Government would have revealed to the people that there was something fishy within the Supreme court.

“There is no way the Federal Government can make you and I know that a judge has so many accounts, has so much money in those accounts and has been operating those accounts”.

“So, the only way they can bring this out to us is to follow this route that they have followed”.

Clarke said while this is not the right route, there is a method in going through this path.

“They know they are not going to get success but they still want to inform you and I and the public that this is the rot in the Supreme Court; you and I must know,” he said.

When asked if there is a rot in the Supreme Court he said, “Definitely”.

While alluding to claims that the Nigerian Supreme Court is the most overworked in the world, Clarke however, noted that this is a self-inflicted injury.

He said the Supreme is taking upon itself cases that should not have been its priority.

Citing certain gubernatorial cases as an example, Clarke asked, “Why should they (Supreme Court) take over jurisdiction on gubernatorial matters”.

He said the law is that gubernatorial elections will terminate before the court of appeal.

The Senior Advocate also blamed politicians for corrupting judges in Nigeria.

He said in the Supreme Court on political matters,  the politicians have corrupted the judges, and “The judges have accepted the corruption”.

Clarke noted that the case against Onnoghen is not an attack against the judiciary.

The legal practitioner said, corruption must be stopped for Nigeria as a nation to progress.

“Corruption has eaten deep everywhere in Nigeria and if corruption creeps into the judiciary, that is the end of this nation,” Clarke said.

CJN’s Trial: Why Should The President Know About Prosecution Of Anyone? El-Rufai Asks

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state has said President Muhammadu Buhari does not need to take note of all prosecutions that go on in Nigeria.

El-Rufai said this in reference to the case of Justice Walter Onnoghen at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

Speaking on polity in Kaduna and Nigeria as a whole, El-Rufai said it is time Nigerian leaders and people are reflective in decisions, rather than operate on ethnic or religious biases.

In the case of Onnoghen, the Kaduna state governor said the position taken by governors of the South-south is disheartening.

He said, “One of the most painful things I have experienced in the last two weeks, was the statement by the governors of the South-south, justifying that non-declaration of assets is nothing, is a non-issue because the Chief Justice of Nigeria is from the South-South”.

READ ALSO: El-Rufai Blasts Shehu Sani, Insists Senator Will Be Defeated

The governor argued that “wrong is wrong and right should be right”, and as such, leaders should advise that we can’t do it all the time, sometimes it’s not black and white, it’s a bit of grey, but we must stand for something that is right”.

Reacting to the issue of the president not being aware of the CJN’s case, Governor El-Rufai said Nigerians should be worried if the president keeps records of all cases going on in and around the country.

He said Nigerians must stop personalizing institutions, asking, “Why should the president know about the prosecution of anyone?”.

El-Rufai said institutions must be allowed to work, arguing that in the case of the Chief Justice the constitution was clear as to the declaration of assets.

The governor further argued saying, “Institutions should be allowed to work”, adding that “We should stand up to protect the integrity of the institution”.

He opined that “Saying that the president doesn’t know is a compliment to the president, it shows that he does not interfere with the institution so much and he doesn’t get involved in this”.

The Kaduna state governor urged Nigerians to stand up for what is right, cease being legalistic, we should cease being ethnic and religious, otherwise, this country will not go anywhere”.

‘I Feel Very Sad’, Osinbajo Reacts To CJN Onnoghen’s Trial

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has reacted to the prosecution of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, noting that he is sad about the situation.

He also said President Muhammadu Buhari did not know about the plan to arraign the CJN until Saturday evening. According to him, the President had always made clear that institutions should not be interfered with.

 READ ALSO: 

EFCC Denies Raid On Justice Onnoghen’s Residence

Onnoghen’s Trial: PDP Alleges Plot To Rig General Elections

Osinbanjo said this on Wednesday at the opening of the Online Publishers Conference in Abuja. He added that he is sad about the turn of events and regrets the current situation where a senior member of his profession is subjected to such judicial process.

“I feel very sad that is going on at all.

“President Muhammadu Buhari, his whole approach is that institutions should just do their work. I can tell by fact that he did not know about this until Saturday evening.

“He did not know that there will be any kind of arraignment until Saturday evening. He has said categorically don’t interfere with what the institutions are doing. Sometimes it has consequences like we have today.

“My take is that I rather not have a situation where members of a profession are being tried for an offence. I don’t feel particularly good about it, as a matter of fact, I feel very sad about it, that is going on at all,” he said.

Justice Onnoghen is facing six charges bordering on failure to declare his assets and operating a domiciliary account, among other charges.

The charges against him are based on a petition signed by the executive secretary of the anti-corruption research data based initiative, Dennis Aghanya.

The petition alleges amongst others things that the CJN failed to declare ownership of sundry accounts funded through cash deposits made by himself up to August 10, 2016.

EFCC Denies Raid On Justice Onnoghen’s Residence

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has denied reports that its operatives raided the residence of embattled Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen. 

According to a statement by Tony Orilade, spokesperson of the EFCC, the anti-graft agency said it never went to the CJN’s house.

There were also reports about an invitation from the EFCC to the CJN, however, the EFCC said it did not extend any such invitation.

While describing these reports as ‘fake news’, the anti-graft agency urged Nigerians to disregard all unfounded claims and be rest assured that the commission will fight corruption in line with the agency’s mandate.

Below is the full statement by the EFCC.

READ ALSO: Onnoghen’s Trial: PDP Alleges Plot To Rig General Elections

“The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has been drawn to the falsehood which has been spreading on the social media that the EFCC has arrested the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen. This is not only a figment of the imagination of the purveyor of the fake news but an evil machination by the creator and carriers of the news aimed at creating anarchy in the country.

“For the record, the EFCC never went to the house of the CJN for arrest neither was an invitation extended to him.

“Several calls and short messages received all point to the fact that the brains behind the fake news had one thing in mind: to act as an agent of destabilization. We would not give in to their plots.

“One of the architect of the fake news, Femi Fani-Kayode, was quoted as saying “Why have the EFCC surrounded the home of CJN Onnoghen and why are they seeking to arrest him? These people want Nigeria to burn! Buhari call off your dogs before it is too late! This is a democracy and not a Gestapo state! In the name of God let this madness stop”. Another arrowhead of the fake news, Yinka Odumakin shared a non-existent video which has gone viral.

“We want to assure Nigerians that while we would fight corruption in line with the mandate setting up the Commission, agents of darkness, in the likes of Femi Fani-Kayode, Yinka Odumakin, and his cohorts, would never be able to manipulate the people against the Commission.

“We also want to assure Fani-Kayode, Yinka Odumakin and other purveyors of the evil news to be ready to defend their actions in the court of law as the EFCC will file a libel suit against them without further delay”.

Tribunal Adjourns CJN Onnoghen’s Trial Till Next Week

The Code of Conduct Tribunal has adjourned proceedings involving the charges of non-declaration of assets preferred against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

The proceedings were adjourned till January 22.

The tribunal adjourned the case after the lead prosecuting counsel, Aliyu Umar (SAN), conceded that Onnoghen was not properly served with the charges and the summons.

Umar agreed that the CJN was not personally served with the charges and the court’s summons, as required by the law. He, therefore, requested the tribunal to direct a fresh service on the CJN.

RELATED:

CJN Onnoghen Absent As Trial Commences

Over 70 Lawyers Arrive CCT Session To Defend CJN Onnoghen

Olanipekun had earlier told the tribunal that he and other defence lawyers only appeared in court in protest against the jurisdiction of the tribunal.

He also said that, from the account given by the court official earlier in the proceedings, the CJN was not served with the charges and summons personally, but through his aide.

He then insisted that the law requires that the defendant be served personally.

Withdraw Charges Against CJN And Apologise, Ekweremadu Advises FG

Court Refuses To Order Ekweremadu's Arrest
(File) Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu

 

Senator Ike Ekweremadu has urged the Federal Government to withdraw the charges against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, and also apologise to the nation’s judiciary.

The Deputy President of the Senate, in a series of posts on his social media handles, @iamekweremadu, in the early hours of Monday, described the charges as extremely dangerous for the nation’s democracy.

Ekweremadu emphasised the need to eschew every form of intimidation against other arms of government, to enable them to play their constitutional roles in the overall interest of the nation.

READ ALSO: South-South Governors Tell CJN To Ignore Planned CCT Trial

The Senator noted that the integrity of the Nigerian judiciary remained intact despite obvious constraints.

He said: “I consider the charges against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, His Lordship, Justice Walter Onnoghen, as ill-advised and dangerous, especially after similar attempts at the leadership of the National Assembly failed.

“This is extremely dangerous for democracy and can only divide the country further as well as alienate us as a country very low in upholding the rule of law and independence of the judiciary.

“I advice the Attorney General of the Federation to immediately withdraw the charges and apologise to the judiciary. We certainly can’t travel this road”.

CJN Onnoghen Absent As Trial Commences

 

The trial of Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, commenced on Monday without him in attendance.

Justice Onnoghen is facing six charges bordering on failure to declare his assets and operating a domiciliary account, among other charges.

The CJN was represented at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) by a team of lawyers led by Mr Wole Olanipekun (SAN).

Over 70 lawyers including 47 Senior Advocates of Nigeria were part of the team that represented Justice Onnoghen.

Mr Olanipekun during the session informed the tribunal that the CJN does not need to appear when he has not been properly served.

The prosecution acknowledged that it did not serve the CJN properly and asked the tribunal to order personal service on Justice Onnoghen.

It also agreed that the law stated that the CJN must be served personally.


RELATED:
Over 70 Lawyers Arrive CCT Session To Defend CJN Onnoghen

CCB Files Criminal Charges Against Chief Justice Of Nigeria


Other lawyers in the defence team were a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi, Mr Chris Uche, and Mr Adegboyega Awomolo.

Five South-South governors had asked the CJN not to honour the summons from the Code of Conduct Bureau to appear before the tribunal.

The governors made the call after an emergency meeting in Abuja on Sunday.

Over 70 Lawyers At CCT Session To Defend CJN Onnoghen

A team of lawyers number over 70 led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) has arrived the Code Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja to defend the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

The defence team includes over 40 Senior Advocates Nigeria (SAN) with one SAN on the side of the prosecution.

The CJN is scheduled for arraignment before the tribunal today, although he has not been seen on the tribunal’s premises. The proceedings is scheduled to start by 10:00 a.m.

RELATED:

Withdraw Charges Against CJN, Falana Tells FG

South-South Governors Tell CJN To Ignore Planned CCT Trial

Some Senior Advocates of Nigeria in his defence team who were already seated awaiting the commencement of the proceedings include, Former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi, Wole Olanipekun, Chief Chris Uche, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo among others.

On the side of the prosecution, there are five lawyers led by Aliyu Umar SAN.

Justice Onnoghen is facing six charges bordering on failure to declare his assets and operating a domiciliary account, among other charges.

The charges against the CJN are based on a petition signed by the executive secretary of the anti-corruption research data based initiative, Dennis Aghanya.

The petition alleges amongst others things that the CJN failed to declare ownership of sundry accounts funded through cash deposits made by himself up to August 10, 2016.