CDD urges Buhari to reverse Onnoghen’s suspension, asks ‘ex-CJN’ to resign

THE Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), a civil society organization, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse the suspension of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen and the subsequent appointment of an Acting CJN in the person of Tanko Mohammed.

The centre also wants Onnoghen to reconvene a meeting of the National Judicial Council (NJC) and then step aside to make room for an investigation into the allegations of corruption against him.

In a statement on Sunday, the Executive Director of CDD, Idayat Hassan, pointed out that Buhari’s unilateral removal of the CJN, based on a purported ex parte order by the Code of Conduct Tribunal is clearly unconstitutional because the CCT has no powers to issue such orders.

“The Constitution is clear that the powers of appointment and removal are shared powers which the President cannot exercise alone.  It is also settled law that only the NJC is constitutionally vested with the authority of disciplinary control including that of suspension of an erring judicial officer. The removal of the CJN has created much concern with the way processes of court and law are flagrantly being abused,” Idayat stated

On the other hand, Idayat pointed out that “Onneghen had himself presided over the establishment of the jurisprudence for suspension of all judicial officers charged for wrongdoing. He, therefore, had an absolute responsibility to step down immediately and allow the National Judicial Council deliberate and take a decision on the matter”.

“We are less than three weeks away from the presidential elections, and Nigeria cannot afford a constitutional crisis at this time, or at any other time,” the statement reads in part.

Therefore, the CDD wants Buhari to “retrace his steps and withdraw the illegal appointment of Tanko Mohammed as Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria”, while Onnoghen, for his part, should “immediately step down and convene the National Judicial Council to meet and make a determination on the way forward”.

“The Buhari Administration must note that resort to jackboot tactics such as witnessed in the unfolding Justice Onnoghen matter is delegitimising the forthcoming 2019 general elections in the eyes of Nigerians and the comity of Nation.

“Nigerians are seriously concerned about the entrenched culture of corruption and impunity in the country. Therefore, it beholds on the National Judicial Council to ensure justice is not just done but seen to be done in the CJN matter.  And importantly, the Nigerian government is reminded that it must tackle corruption in adherence to the spirit and letters of the Nigerian Constitution.”


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