A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, has called on the Federal Government to withdraw the charges against the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Falana faulted the move by the government to press charges against the CJN in a statement on Sunday.
The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) had filed criminal charges against Justice Onnoghen at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over alleged failure to declare his assets, as well as operating a domiciliary account.
In his reaction, Falana asked the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) to withdraw the charges against the CJN.
He said, “The charge against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, ought not to have been instituted at the Code of Conduct of Tribunal in view of the case of Nganjiwa v FRN (2017) LPELR 43391 wherein the Court of Appeal held that a judicial officer who has not been investigated by the National Judicial Council and sanctioned for misconduct cannot be arraigned in any criminal court in Nigeria.”
“As all authorities are bound by the Court of Appeal verdict, the case should be withdrawn by the Attorney-General of the Federation without any delay because it is likely to be a prosecutorial misadventure,” the lawyer added.
The CCT had said it would commence the trial of Justice Onnoghen on Monday, January 14, on six charges.
It explained that the charges were filed before it by the CCB, based on a petition signed by the Executive Secretary of the anti-corruption research data-based initiative, Dennis Aghanya.
Apart from Falana’s reaction, the charges against the CJN attracted the attention of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) among others who criticised the government’s action.
The NBA described the trial of Justice Onnoghen as an “assault on the judiciary”, saying it must be stopped as it does not follow the rule of law.
It also decried the speed at which the case was handled and alleged that all due protocols were not unobserved.