- Femi Falana has once again advised the embattled former Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen to step down
- The human rights activist said the NBA is making a circus out of Onngohen's suspension
- Falana urged the National Judicial Council to convince Onngohen to step down
Human rights activist and lawyer, Femi Falana, has accused the National Judicial Council (NJC) of turning Walter Onnoghen's suspension into a circus show with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) acting as if the former chief justice is being unjustly crucified.
The Nation reports that Falana was at the high court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to attend to a case despite the NBA's order for all lawyers to boycott court over Onnoghen's suspension.
The activist said: “I have a case before court number 26 in the FCT High Court, Abuja. I left Lagos yesterday to handle my case. My clients are around. I have a contract with my client, which supersedes the directive of the NBA.
“I thought the court would sit. But, unfortunately, we were told the judge is involved in a seminar in preparation for the sittings of the election tribunals, which, for me, is a good excuse for not siting."
The lawmaker said he is not bound by the order of the NBA to sit at home and boycott courts to protest Onnoghen's suspension.
“But, on a very serious note, I am not bound by the resolution of the NBA. I have consistently maintained my position in this self-inflicted crisis that we are going through.
“I have condemned the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria on the basis of an ex-parte order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal. And, at the same time, I have also asked that the suspension be lifted. I have also pleaded with the Chief Justice to do the needful by resigning from office. And I think there is still an opportunity to do what is needed to be done.
“The National Judicial Council (NJC) should have met on the 15th of January, last week’s Tuesday, and that body would have had the opportunity to save the legal profession and the country this colossal embarrassment. But the Chief Justice, as chairman of the NJC, in his wisdom, decide unilaterally to postpone the meeting of the NJC indefinitely.
“So, I am happy that some concerned members of the NJC requisitioned for a meeting of the body and the body is meeting today."
Falana said he hopes that regardless of the boycott of the NBA, the body will follow its own precedents by asking Onnoghen to step aside.
He cited a 2016 case when a number of judges were arrested and charged before the Federal High Court. He said the NJC rightly decided that those judges be interdicted on the advice of the NBA, and they were so interdicted.
“This time around, the NBA is busy, mobilising lawyers to defend the Chief Justice. And the picture that I have seen in court,a very sad picture, reminds me of the trial of Mandela. The impression is being given that a freedom fighter is on trial. But, we all know that that is not the case here.
“We shouldn’t have pushed ourselves to this embarrassing level that the Chief Justice of our country is on trial. You would have expected the NBA leaders to give the appropriate advise in this case," the lawyer stated.
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He added that the decision of the NBA to boycott courts is an unpopular one among many lawyers as most refused to obey the order.
According to him, its a country of freedom and everyone has the right to do what he wants. "Those who want to sit at home are entitled to their decision. Those of us in court are also entitled to do so," he added.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng earlier reported that the NJC issued a seven-day ultimatum to the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria Walter Onnoghen to respond to a petition filed against him by the office of the attorney-general of the federation.
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