Femi Falana(SAN) has said the Code of Conduct Tribunal’s order relied on by President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, is suspect.
Justice Tanko Muhammad has been sworn in by the president as the Ag. CJN following charges of false assets declaration filed against Onnoghen.
According to Falana, the exparte application relied on was filed on January 9 while the motion on notice of the
substantive suit filed on January 11 with the name of the lawyer that argued the exparte motion not stated in the order.
He also suggested that Onnoghen might have contributed to his own downfall by postponing indefinitely the meeting of the
National Judicial Council, which could have deliberated on the matter and take an informed position.
The Senior Advocate stated this in a statement made available to PUNCH on Saturday in Abuja.
Falana recalled he had tried to intervene in the matter by calling on the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar
Malami SAN to withdraw the charge of false declaration of assets filed against the suspended CJN.
The statement read,
“The call was without prejudice to the merit of the serious allegations levelled against the Chief Justice.
In line with decided judicial authorities, I had wanted the National Judicial Council to investigate the allegations.
Unfortunately, the 88th statutory meeting of the National Judicial Council scheduled to hold on January 15, 2019, which could have deliberated on the matter and taken
an informed position was postponed indefinitely on the directive of the embattled Chief Justice.
“As the battle shifted to the courts, both the Judiciary and the Executive were shopping for court orders from the Federal High Court, the National Industrial Court,
the Code of Conduct Tribunal and the Court of Appeal. In the process, settled principles of law were sacrificed for the exigency of the moment.”
Stating that the ex parte order was procured in an act of brazen impunity by the Executive, Falana urged the president
to respect all orders of the court earlier obtained which restrained the Federal Government from removing the CJN.
“It is unfortunate that the Bar and the Bench have played into the hands of the sponsors of incipient fascism in the country. For reasons best known to them.”
Therefore, the National Judicial Council should convene and constitute a committee to investigate the allegations
leveled against the Chief Justice and make appropriate recommendation to the relevant authorities.