- Christian Lawyers’ Fellowship of Nigeria has described the trial of CJN Walter Onnoghen as unconstitutional
- CLASFON accused the presidency of undermining the power of rule of law and separation of power
- The group also noted that the only body recognised by the law to penalise CJN is the National Judicial Council
Following the controversy generated by the arraignment of the chief justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, over his alleged failure to declare his assets as required by law, Christian Lawyers’ Fellowship of Nigeria, (CLASFON) has described the trial as unconstitutional.
CLASFON, in a statement made on Monday, January 14, by Arome Okwori and Olatunji Omole, its national president and national secretary, respectively, described the attempt to try Onnoghen at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) as politically motivated and clear disregard for the law, Vanguard reports.
The group said: “We received with dismay the disturbing news of the decision of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) an agency of the federal government, to arraign before the code of conduct tribunal the chief justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, for alleged breaches of the code of conduct as contained in the constitution.
“It is the view of CLASFON that the decision of the executive arm of government through its agency, CCB, is misconceived, unconstitutional and a naked display of arbitrary powers.
“Government action undermines the principle of the rule of law and the doctrine of separation of powers, which are fundamental principles of the constitution.
“The provisions of sections 153 to 161 of the 1999 constitution, the third schedule to the constitution, the National Judicial Policy of April 2016, the Judicial Discipline Regulations of March 9, 2017, the revised code of conduct of judicial officers of February 2016, made by the National Judicial Council pursuant to its constitutional powers and the decision of the court of appeal in Nganjiwa v. Federal Republic of Nigeria (2017) LPELR-43391 sum up the extant law on the procedure for dealing with cases of misconduct by serving judicial officers. "
CLASFON also noted that the only body recognised by the law that can penalise the CJN is the National Judicial Council, calling for all hands to be on deck.
The group added: “The chief justice of Nigeria as a judicial officer and a member of the National Judicial Council is amenable to the disciplinary control of the National Judicial Council. (Paragraph 21(b) and (g) of the third schedule to the 1999 Nigerian constitution.
“From the foregoing, we consider the NJC as the appropriate organ to deal with complaints of misconduct brought against the chief justice of Nigeria in the first instance."
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Legit.ng had reported that the Lagos state chapter of Nigerian Bar Association on Sunday, December 13, condemned the planned trial of the chief justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Onnoghen was set to be arraigned by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) at its tribunal on Monday, January 14, in Abuja, on six count charges of alleged non-declaration of assets.
The forum, after an emergency meeting in Lagos, described the trial as a premeditated clamp down on the highest office of the judicial arm of government.
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