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Onnoghen: Lawyers down tool in C’River, reject CJN’s proposed arraignment

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…we are sliding into totalitarianism
…it is an orchestrated media trial, a spite on the judiciary- Mba Ukweni, SAN

BY IKE UCHECHUKWU (CALABAR)



Legal practitioners under the auspices of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA Cross River state withdrew all services on Monday in protest against what they described as the unconstitutional attempt by the Executive Arm of the Federal Government of Nigeria to intimidate, coerce, desecrate the judicial Arm of Government vide the proposed arraignment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen.

Justice Onnoghen

Addressing newsmen in a communiqué issued and signed by the three Branches that make up the NBA,Cross River state at the end of a joint Emergency General Meeting held at the State Judiciary Headquarters ,High Court Complex ,Mary Slessor, Chairman of the Calabar Branch, Dr. Emmanuel Idaka said they will resist any attempt by the Federal government to arraign the CJN.

The six point Communiqué read by Dr Idaka averred that the Cross River state Branch of NBA was wholly in support and has adopted the position of Association on the issue as contained in the statement issued and signed by the President, Chief Paul Usoro.

“We condemn in its entirety the unlawful manner in which the federal government and its Agencies have assaulted ,ridiculed and degraded the revered office of the Chief Justice Nigeria and indeed the entire Judiciary in the country by orchestrated media trial of the CJN.

“Whilst not condoning corruption in all its ramifications, we insist that, the rule of law must be followed by the Federal Government of Nigeria in its avowed fight against corruption ,especially as it has to do with the proposed arraignment of the CJN or any other Judicial officer in the Federal Republic of Nigeria as laid down in its locus classsicus of Nganjiwa vs FRN(2017)LPELR-43391(CA)where the Court of Appeal made it absolutely clear that any misconduct attached to the office and function of a judicial officer must first be reported to and handled by the National Judicial Council,NJC pursuant to the relevant provisions of the law.

“We are aware that all these attempts are intended to precipitate the unlawful removal from office of the CJN which position they originally did not want him to occupy .It is pertinent to draw the attention of the initiators of this bizarre transaction to the fact that ,the removal of the CJN is regulated by the mandatory provisions of section 292(1) (a) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999(As amended )which can only be effected by the President of the FRN acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate.

“Democracy strives under the rule of law .The present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari ,having come under a Constitutional democracy and not being a military dictatorship ,must in all its dealings with the citizens of Nigeria and other Arms of the Government ,abide by the Rule of Law, ‘they stated.

On his part, Mba Ukweni, SAN, said this kind of anomaly must be allowed to see the light of day as no sane person in Nigeria would allow such.

“We are gradually sliding into totalitarianism in this country, this cannot happen to that revered office without due process, we condemn in its totality and we reject it in its entirety, this ordeal is an Orchestrated media trail and cannot be allowed to stand or even see the light of day.

“When it happened to the legislature we raised our voices and at this point, we cannot no longer keep quiet for this to happen to the Judiciary, it is an anomaly and a desecration and can never be condoned, “he said.

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