Constitutional lawyer and elder statesman, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, yesterday called for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari, Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, and Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Justice Danladi Umar for the poor handling of Justice Walter Onnoghen’s case.He expressed concern that Onnoghen’s resignation would not completely resolve the sad episode in the country’s history, as is its being suggested in some quarters.
According to him, it is surprising that Justice Umar is still in office as Chairman of the CCT, which suggests that he is being kept there as part of a pre-planned subversive design to manipulate the presidential election.
The revered jurist made the call in a letter to The Guardian yesterday.He said Buhari’s suspension of the CJN is, in itself, a most condemnable subversion of the Constitution, but his statement, while announcing it to the public makes the action so absurdly subversive.He recalled the president said: “A short while ago, I was served with an Order of the CCT issued on Wednesday January 23, 2019 directing the suspension of the CJN,
Justice Walter Nkanu Samuel Onnoghen from office pending final determination of the cases against him at the CCT. Nwabueze stressed that the president’s statement raises several questions, the most crucial of which is whether the CCT has the power to order or direct the President to suspend the CJN.
The constitutional lawyer said the “administration’s avowed respect for the Rule of Law” and for obedience of court orders sound like a deliberate perversion of truth, citing Col. Sambo Dasuki’s continued detention, four years after a court of law ordered his release on bail, as well as Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, two years after he was granted bail.
Meanwhile, the CCT has fixed February 4 for resumption of Onnoghen’s trial on the six-count charge of alleged non-asset declaration.A statement yesterday by the CCT Head, Press & Public Relations, Ibraheem Al-Hassan, said: “The decision was reached yesterday sequel to a correspondent from Code of Conduct Bureau, applying for the resumption of trial of the case.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria acknowledged the punishment, which the CCT may impose in a proper trial.“In conclusion, the CCT acted ultra vires the Constitution in making the order directing the President to suspend the CJN from office. The suspension is unconstitutional, null and void,” he said.
Also reacting, Kaduna State chapter of the Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria, (SCSN) has warned against giving religious interpretation to the appointment of Justice Muhammad Tanko as Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).Chairman of the group, Sambo Rigachikun, and Secretary, AbdurRahman Hassan, made the appeal in Kaduna at a press conference.The SCSN warned that further agitations against the suspension of justice Onnonghen could polarise the fragile country, rather than uniting it.