- Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, said no court has the right to stop a trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal
- Falana was reacting to the suspension of Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria by President Buhari
- The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said Onnoghen once said that the CCT is the only forum empowered to try public office holders
A front-line lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), has condemned the decision by the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria Walter Onnoghen to challenge his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Falana who made this known on Sunday, January 27, while featuring as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today pointed out that Onnoghen himself stated during the case of Senate President Bukola Saraki and the federal government that the CCT was the only forum empowered to try public office holders.
He said: “There’s no way any court anywhere can stop the prosecution before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, because my lord the Honourable Justice Onnoghen had said in the case of Saraki and the Federal Republic of Nigeria that the Code of Conduct Tribunal is the only forum exclusively empowered to deal with breaches of code of conduct of public officers.
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“So you can’t go to a national industrial court or a customary court of appeal or the federal high court which has no jurisdiction on allegations of breaches of the code of conduct. No!
“No court, not even the supreme court, can order somebody occupying an office–I’m not even talking about the chief justice now–to vacate ex parte, because you have already determined his rights and obligations in his absence.
''You can ask for an injunction to say somebody should not assume office because somebody else is occupying the office. But you cannot on an ex parte basis remove somebody from office and then ask somebody to take his place. It’s not possible.”
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) asked government to operate under the law,” adding that Nigerians should be “prepared to defend this “democratic republic”.
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According to him, "we must learn to operate under the rule of law. You now play into the hands of a regime that was determined to embarrass the country as it were by putting the chief justice on suspension. That is what has happened.
“The president talks of the alacrity with which court orders were being procured. Of course the filing of the charge within 48 hours can also be said to have been done with alacrity.
“I have warned that Nigerians have to be prepared to defend this rickety democratic republic. I have warned against our deference to fascism and I’m not talking of the APC alone.”
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had reported that a Lagos-based constitutional lawyer, Chief Malcolm Omirhobo, asked a Federal High Court, Abuja, to decide whether due process was observed in the suspension of Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria.
The lawyer, suing through Registered Trustees of Malcom Omirhobo Foundation, urged the court to declare the said suspension of Onnoghen as unlawful and unconstitutional.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/109/2019, the plaintiff joined as defendant: The Attorney General of the Federation, the Senate, National Judicial Council (NJC), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Justice Mohammed Tanko and Onnoghen.
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