Mi -Lord the Chief Justice

By Muhammed Adamu

THEY say that geo-politics and ethno-religious issues, not the fight against corruption, are on the root of the try to take away the Chief Justice of Nigeria CJN, Justice Onnoghen, -by bringing him to trial over allegation of false declaration of property.

Justice Onnoghen

They insist that the trial is merely a smokescreen for an ill-motivated plan to execute an govt coup de tat against the judicial arm of government.

That the goal is to take away a South-Southern Chief Justice whose tenure has not expired, and to interchange him with a core Northerner, Justice Mohammed Tanko.

And the idea, in response to the opposition PDP, is that for the reason that APC –by all indications, they say- will probably be incapable of freely and pretty successful the forthcoming normal elections, the one attainable manner it may safe a second time period subsequently, is that if it rigs the elections. Plus, they are saying that every one the indications are there that the APC does plan to rig, particularly the Presidential election.

Onnoghen’s case may overshadow NJC’s meeting — Member

What with the President refusing to signal a brand new electoral legislation legitimising using Card Reader and introducing the transmission of results electronically -rather than manually?

What with the truth that he was additionally not initially disposed to eradicating a ‘partial’ Inspector General of Police, Idris as a result of the President was planning to make use of him for partisan curiosity? And what with the President now suppressing dissent, including clamping down on press freedom?

And they mentioned that if the president should rig, he would then require to organize the mandatory situation for a regime-friendly Judiciary that will validate his victory, however that Onnoghen, as Chief Justice who would represent the election petition tribunals, is essentially the most unlikely, given particularly his geo-ethnic background, to be disposed to enjoying the judicial cat’s paw prepared to tug APC’s electoral chestnuts out of the political fire of petitions which can be certain to canine the heels of the 2019 elections.

The assumption right here is that: both Buhari’s APC is actually not sure of victory on the election and would require to behave to preempt a beneficial function of the Judiciary in legitimising its rigged victories or that even whether it is certain of victory in a ‘free and truthful’ election which it guarantees to permit, the APC should require the superintendence of an upright, unbiased Chief Justice to represent neutral tribunals to uphold its hard-earned victories.

They say that the APC neither believes that Onnoghen is upright sufficient to do this; nor, with  a  money-bag Atiku within the fray, does it consider that he has not already offered to the opposition PDP. Or was Ononghen not the pinnacle of the Judicial Panel that helped to free the Senate President, Saraki from the clutches of the identical Code of Conduct Tribunal on comparable prices of false declaration of property?

Or was he not a part of the Supreme Court panel that overruled the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, on interlocutories/keep of proceedings in favour of Saraki? And now with such uncovered ‘dollarised’ accounts inconsistent with the incomes capability of the brand new Chief Justice, there undoubtedly should be one thing rotten within the State of Denmark.

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And possibly all these assumptions and presumptions are true. Or possibly they don’t seem to be. Maybe there may be an govt ‘motive’ behind the arraignment of the Chief Justice.

Maybe there may be not. But why should we dissipate partisan and sectional energies in quest of ‘motive’ to elucidate away a legal improper, once we ought to merely undergo the due judicial course of in quest of ‘legislation’ and ‘truth’ in order to reach at justice? The seek for ‘motive’ can’t supplant the inquisitorial due course of for the dedication of guilt or the finding of innocence.

Notwithstanding the presumed motive or ill-intention of the Executive arm, there’s a case before the courts! And so far as judges and attorneys must be involved the query is: ‘has the Chief Justice breached the legislation?’ A single lawyer will probably be extra justified to reply this in courtroom than a thousand SANS morally will probably be, who cartel to place a clog within the wheel of justice.

The courtroom is not going to ask whether or not the Executive has a ‘motive’ in bringing the matter; as a result of courts are presided over by judges of ‘legislation and truth’, not of ‘motive’ and ‘motivation’. And possibly it’s the cause that even the legislation of proof doesn’t reckon with ‘motive’ as proof of guilt or of innocence.

Nor will the absence of ‘motive’ to cheat throughout asset declaration be proof that Justice Ononghen has not breached the legislation –if the information present that he has. The legal responsibility right here is as strict as when a highway person commits a site visitors offence.

You don’t seek for a ‘responsible thoughts’ (mens rea) when a driver beats the site visitors gentle, as a result of it’s ample by legislation that he beat the site visitors gentle. Not having supposed to do it’s immaterial to the truth that he did it. Nor ought to the police be inquisitioned on the ‘motive’ for apprehending him apart from the obvious intention, as officers of the legislation, to satisfy the tip of the administration of justice.

And so to say that the National Judicial Council, NJC has disciplinary jurisdiction over judicial officers who commit crimes or that it decides whether or not or not a judicial officer who commits a criminal offence must be arraigned before a courtroom is to arrogate to the NJC the powers and standing of a courtroom which it has not. The NJC has jurisdiction solely over judicial officers who commit judicial misconduct in the middle of their judicial duties. The fee of a crime, which any false declaration of asset is, can’t be mentioned to be a part of that judicial responsibility.

Besides, the requirement for declaration of asset as supplied for by the fifth Schedule of the Constitution has not made the duty to take action incumbent solely on ‘Judicial officers’ however all ‘public officers’ failing which the Constitution has empowered the Code of Conduct Bureau to prosecute.

Saraki demands due process in move to try Onnoghen

And so regarding a breach of the asset declaration code, offenders are handled not of their capability as ‘judicial officers’ misconducting in the middle of their judicial duties, however of their capability usually as ‘public provides’ breaching the Constitution. Sections 12 and 18 of the Schedule are clear on that.

The lack of ability of the National Judicial Council to self-discipline judicial officers who commit criminal offences or to resolve whether or not or to not ship them to courtroom, isn’t any much less poignant now within the case of an offending Justice Ononghen than it was a number of years again within the case of Justice Ayo Salami that the NJC was bent on criminalising.

Salami was first accused of perjury (mendacity under oath against the then CJN, Katsina-Alu, who the Council was decided to exonerate from the allegation of judicial interference with intention to pervert justice).

When it turned obvious that ‘perjury’ was a criminal offence and that solely the courtroom -and not the NJC- had jurisdiction to entertain, the Council reverted to an indictment in step with its disciplinary powers and accused Salami of violating the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers by granting a press interview with out authorisation.

Now even in doing this, the NJC had disregarded the truth that not one of the panels that it had set as much as probe Salami had interrogated him on that allegation.

Yet, it was on the idea of this trifling offence –and thus with out the basic good thing about ‘truthful listening to’- that the NJC had proceeded to advocate Salami’s suspension to President Jonathan who, with no second’s hesitation, was solely too joyful to approve, as a result of he believed this was the Salami, as Head of the Court of Appeal, that was accountable for the judicial lack of PDP’s Edo and Osun states to Tinubu’s AD.

And it’s attention-grabbing to notice that self-righteous attorneys like Agbakogba and others have been in actual fact members of the NJC when this travesty of justice was dedicated against Salami.

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By the way in which, because the discretion to arraign Salami on the offence of perjury would’ve been that of the A.G. to train, the identical in the present day, regarding Onnoghen, is that of a prosecutorially-empowered Code of Conduct Bureau to train -without recourse to the NJC.

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