Christian Lawyers’ Fellowship of Nigeria, CLASFON, has condemned the decision by Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, to arraign the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
It claimed that the arraignment of CJN Onnoghen over false asset declaration and operation of domiciliary account charges was unconstitutional and a naked display of powers by the executive arm of government.
The group, in a statement in Jos yesterday by Arome Okwori and Olatunji Omole, its National President and National Secretary, respectively, asked that the charges against the CJN be dropped as continuing with it amounted to usurpation of powers of the National Judicial Council, NJC.
The statement reads in part: “We received with dismay the disturbing news of the decision of the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, an agency of the Federal Government, to arraign before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, for alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct as contained in the Constitution.
“It is the view of CLASFON that the decision of the executive arm of government through its agency, CCB, is misconceived, unconstitutional and a naked display of arbitrary powers.
“Government action undermines the principle of the rule of law and the doctrine of separation of powers, which are fundamental principles of the Constitution.
“The provisions of Sections 153 to 161 of the 1999 Constitution, the Third Schedule to the Constitution, the National Judicial Policy of April 2016, the Judicial Discipline Regulations of March 9, 2017, the Revised Code of Conduct of Judicial Officers of February 2016, made by the National Judicial Council pursuant to its constitutional powers and the decision of the Court of Appeal in Nganjiwa v. Federal Republic of Nigeria (2017) LPELR-43391 sum up the extant law on the procedure for dealing with cases of misconduct by serving judicial officers.
“The Chief Justice of Nigeria as a judicial officer and a member of the National Judicial Council is amenable to the disciplinary control of the National Judicial Council. (Paragraph 21(b) and (g) of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Nigerian Constitution.
“From the foregoing, we consider the NJC as the appropriate organ to deal with complaints of misconduct brought against the Chief Justice of Nigeria in the first instance.”