Over 150 SANs To Defend CJN Onnoghen At CCT On Monday
Over 150 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) are preparing to defend the Chief Justice Of Nigeria [CJN], Walter Onnoghen at the Code of Conduct Tribunal [CCT] on Monday, ElombahNews has gathered.
CJN Onnoghen, it could be recalled, was indicted over failure to indicate his domiciliary accounts while declaring his assets.
The office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice is prosecuting the CJN following a petition by a non-governmental organisation [NGO].
Citing Okoye & Ors v. COP & Ors (2015) 24 LRCN 1 @ 150 Ratio 2-18; Lufedajo v Johnson & Ors (2007) 147 LRCN 1060; & Abacha v The State (2002) FWLR (118) 1224 SC, a lawyers, Okoh Sheriff E. has faulted the proposed prosecution of Onnoghen.
He argued that the CCT “absolutely lacks the requisite jurisdiction to try the CJN due to the arrant abuse of due constitutional process by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice in bringing the charge without due process”.
Speaking further, he said:
“It is beyond doubt that “noncompliance with mandatory provisions of the Constitution has the inevitable consequences of rendering the proceedings a nullity.
“It is a fundamental defect that is not a mere irregularity, but a gargantuan illegality. See the case of Galadima v State (2018) 276 LRCN 124.”
He said that by virtue of sections 318, 158(1) and Paragraph 21 (B) of the 3rd Schedule to the 1999 Constitution, the Tribunal lacks the requisite jurisdiction to try the CJN.
This, according to him, is because the allegations against the CJN were never referred to the National Judicial Council [NJC], before the criminal charge was entered against him.
He advised the over 150 SANs preparing to defend CJN Onnoghen to “conclude their submission by reminding the Tribunal that it has the powers of emancipating any person from any oppressive charges including the oppressive charges against the CJN.”
He cited Sections 6(6), 36 (6)(a)&(b) of the CFRN 1999, as amended, and the celebrated case of Tawakalitu v FRN (2011) 9 WRN 31 @ 57 Ratio 24 as a backup.
He, however, said he saw “no reason why 150 SANs should waste their time over simple charges the most junior Counsel in my office can move the Court to quash with a wink of the eye”.
He said: “Let no one glorify the office of the Attorney General of the Federation with more response than they deserve in this case.
“If the Attorney General of the Federation chooses to mess with the CJN, let us simply get juniors to pull down the dignity of the Attorney General’s office without much ado.
“We can win this Case from the swimming pool,” he concluded.