Onnoghen: Malami in Trouble as Agbakoba Makes Fresh Move to Overturn Suspension

322

The integrity of the Attorney-General and Justice Minister of Nigeria, Abubakar Malami, is currently being subjected to test in the matter of the suspended Chief Justice of the country, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

A foremost human rights and pro-democracy icon and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, does not appear to be pleased with Malami for allegedly failing to guide the government properly on the Onnoghen issue.

According to Agbakoba, judicial officers including the Chief Justice of Nigeria, enjoy judicial immunity, stressing that the CJN has a constitutionally guaranteed tenure of office that can only be interfered with by the administrative action of the National Judicial Council (NJC) or the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate.

The obviously worried doyen of the human rights and pro-democracy activism in the country has accordingly sued Malami SAN, over the suspension of Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari suspended Onnoghen as the CJN on January 25 over allegations of non-declaration of assets. The President immediately swore in Justice Tanko Muhammad to replace Onnoghen in an acting capacity.

But Agbakoba, in his fresh suit before the Federal High Court in Lagos, said Onnoghen’s suspension by the President was illegal and urged the court to overturn it.

The second defendant in the suit is the National Judicial Council. He told the court that in the suspension of Onnoghen as the CJN, President Buhari did not adopt either of the procedures.

The Senate had earlier filed a similar suit before the Supreme Court, contending that Onnoghen’s suspension by Buhari was not procedural as it did not have the input of the two-thirds majority of the Senate.

The Senate, however, withdrew the suit this week from the apex court, saying they are allowing the NJC deal with the issues.

In a supporting affidavit to the suit, Agbakoba said he knows that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 provides for the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria and that the Chief Justice of Nigeria can only be removed based on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council or an address by the President supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate.

He is therefore praying the court to determine whether by the combined interpretation of Section 153 (1)(i), Paragraph 21 (b) of the 3rd Schedule and Section 292 (1) (a) (i) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as (amended) the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen can be suspended or removed from office except on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council or the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate.

Agbakoba also wants the court to make a declaration that by the combined interpretation of Section 153 (1)(i), Paragraph 21 (b) of the 3rd Schedule and Section 292 (1)(a) (i) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as (amended) the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Onnoghen cannot be suspended or removed from office except on the recommendation of the NJC or the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here