Onnoghen: NBA holds emergency NEC meeting

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) will hold an emergency National Executive Council (NEC) on Monday in Abuja to deliberate on a common position on the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.

NBA Assistant Publicity Secretary, Akorede Lawal, who confirmed the meeting to our correspondent, said the meeting would hold at Noon at its National Secretariat, Abuja.

President Muhammadu Buhari had last Friday suspended Justice Onnoghen from office as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, over corruption charges bordering on false declaration of assets.

In his place, Justice Ibrahim Tanko was sworn-in as acting Chief Justice of Nigeria in a manner that has generated outrage both locally and internationally.

The NBA had in an earlier statement condemned and rejected the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, saying that it amounted to an attempted coup against the nation’s judiciary.

The association said the action of the Executive arm of government “portends a slide into anarchy and complete deconstruction of the Rule of Law and due process.

In a statement by its President, Paul Osoro (SAN), the NBA described the action as “an absolute breach of the Constitution and the usurpation of the powers of the Senate and the Nigerian Judicial Council.”

The statement reads: “The news media has been awash this evening with the news of the purported suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honorable Mr. Justice Walter S C Onnoghen, GCON by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR and the swearing-in of Hon Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.

We are told that this was pursuant to an Ex-Parte Order that was issued by the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Wednesday, 23 January 2019.

“The Nigerian Bar Association unequivocally rejects and condemns this attempted coup against the Nigerian Judiciary and evident suspension of the Nigerian Constitution by the Executive arm of the Federal government.

“The action of the Executive portends a slide into anarchy and complete deconstruction of the Rule of Law and due process. It amounts to an absolute breach of the Constitution and the usurpation of the powers of the Senate and the Nigerian Judicial Council.

“It is unfortunate that the Executive branch of government purports to suspend the CJN on the basis of an alleged ex-parte order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal – the same Tribunal that, to the knowledge of the Executive, had, only the previous day, Tuesday, January 22, 2019, adjourned its proceedings to Monday, 28 January 2019 and has before it a Motion on Notice that is yet to be argued, seeking the same reliefs as were contained in the purported ex-parte application, to wit, the suspension of the CJN, amongst others.”

President Buhari had while acting on compliance with an order issued by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, suspended Justice Onnoghen from office as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).

In his place, Justice Ibrahim Tanko, who is the next most senior justice of the Supreme Court was sworn in as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.

Our correspondent was reliably told that the tribunal was allegedly put under pressure to entertain a Motion Exparte brought before it by the government against Onnoghen a day before the Court of Appeal issued an order suspending his trial.

A Copy of the Motion Exparte obtained by our correspondent was dated January 23, read in parts: “An Interim Order of the Honourable Tribunal directing the Defendant/Respondent to step aside as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Chairman of the National Judicial Council over an allegation of the Contravening the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act CAP C15 Laws of the Federation 2004 pending the determination of the Motion on Notice dated 10th Day of January 2019.

“An Interim Order of the Honourable Tribunal directing the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to take all necessary measure to swear the most Senior Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria as Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman National Judicial Council in order to prevent a vacuum in the judicial arm of government pending the determination of the motion on Notice.

“And for such further order(s) as this Honourable Tribunal may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this case.”

The ruling of the Tribunal also read in part: “It is hereby ordered as follows: That the defendant/respondent shall step aside as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman National Judicial Council over allegation of Contravening the provisions of the code of Conducts and Tribunal Act CAP C15 Laws of the Federation 2004 pending the determination of the Motion on notice dated 10th January 2019.

“That the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall take all necessary measure to swear in the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria as Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman National Judicial Council in order to prevent a vacuum in the judicial arm of government pending the determination of the motion on notice.

“This matter is hereby adjourned to the 28 Day of January 2019 for Hearing.

“Issued at Abuja under the Hand and Seal of the Honorable Chairman and Member of this Honourable Tribunal this 23rd Day of January 2019 By Hon Danladi Y. Umar, Hon. Chairman, and Mrs. Julie A. Anabor Hon Member II.”

The post Onnoghen: NBA holds emergency NEC meeting appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

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