CJN Onnoghen Suspension: Two Valid Arguments For and Against




Given the supersonic speed at which the CCB & CCT are moving and the uncharacteristic enthusiasm of the FG to comply with judicial orders, I am suspicious of the motive behind the prosecution of the CJN. I am also concerned with the time of the whole thing. But this is just a marginal note; a statement by the way side. I will keep it for another day.
Now, turning to the topic at hand, I do not see anything wrong or illegal with the suspension of the CJN and swearing-in yesterday of Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko. The action of PMB is constitutional. Nay, he had a duty to act in the way he did. Here are my seven reasons:
1. PMB did not act on his own motion. He acted on an Order of the CCT.
2.  The CCT has an inherent power under Section 6 of the Constitution to issue any order that will promote the Rule of Law and ensure the smooth conduct of its proceedings. I believe this order does both. See point 7 below.
3. Some lawyers have argued that CCT’s Order is illegal or even unconstitutional. But this is not PMB’s business. He can’t question the legality of a judicial decision as doing so will tantamount to the president sitting on appeal on the Judgement of a Court.
4. Under our constitutional system, PMB has no option than to obey the said Order. That is why we have been urging him to obey the Orders on Dasuki and Zakzaky. I repeat the same call here toady;
5. The provisions of Section 292 cited by the NBA and others do not apply to this matter as the  CJN was not “removed”. He was “suspended” pursuant to a valid and subsisting Order. The removal envisaged by and under Section 292 of the Constitution means “the dismissal of someone from a job” while suspension as in the present case means  “[to] temporarily prevent from continuing or being in force or effect.”
6. The CJN is the head of the all Nigerian courts and Judiciary as well as the Chairman of the National Judicial Council which, under his Chairmanship, exercises supervisory and disciplinary role on all judges and judicial officer in Nigeria. This means any decision reached by CCT may likely go on appeal up to the Supreme Court where the CJN is at the helm of affairs.
7. It is against the rule of Natural Justice for Justice Onneghen to remain the CJN and Chairman NJC while facing trial under the same judges whose promotions, disciplinary and other related matters are under him;
8. I believe this action will facilitate quick dispensation of justice in this matter. Before the Order, the “generous SANs” representing the “poor” CJN had started taking steps that are clearly intended to frustrate his trial. They had started raising frivolous issues and making empty applications because they knew that their client had an upper hand. Now that he has been suspended, the defense counsel will be serious to prosecute the matter to its conclusion so that their client might be reinstated as quickly as possible if he is not found guilty.
9. Assuming, without conceding, that there are any anomalies in the procedure adopted. I would rather forgo any such anomalies for the crushingly disappointing alleged acts of the person who is suppose to hold those who violate our laws to account. I feel we must get the bottom of the allegations against the CJN whatever and punish him if he is guilty.

*Plot to Remove Onnoghen is Buried in the Dates; Cabal Worked to Pre-Determined Outcome – Chidi Odinkalu*
The gist of the story & clear intent to work to pre-determined outcome in the CJN Onnoghen matter is buried in dates. The petition against CJN Onnoghen was dated 7th January. It was actually stamped into the office of the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) on 9th January.
On the same day, 9th January, according to the ex-parte order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), which only became public yesterday, after the purported suspension of CJN Onnoghen, the Buhari administration filed a petition with the CCT for his removal.
It’s quite clear that there was no time between the receipt of the petition by the CCB & the referral to the CCT. Under the law, the obligation to verify claims made in asset declaration forms belongs exclusively to the CCB. This cld not have bn done before charges were filed.
Curiously, the application to remove Onnoghen dated 9th January, predates the filing of the charges against him, which did not happen until over 24 hours later on 10th January.
When a motion is filed in a court or tribunal, it bears the name of the lawyer or person filing it. The motion has to be formally moved or argued on a date fixed by the court. In this case of Onnoghen, the motion for his removal bears no name & the order doesn’t say who moved it.
So, to sum things up, Nigeria’s President Buhari, who has no recent memory of having obeyed any court order, purports to procure the removal of the CJN based on a petition that was not investigated, a charge that was not prosecuted & an ex-parte application that was not moved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *