It is simply too early within the day for the misinformation that’s being reported as information on some TV channels, specifically, the purported arraingnment of the CJN, Hon Justice Mister Walter Onnoghen. A specific channel in truth reported that he was arraigned however he was absent in court docket! How absurd can this get.
Please, let or not it’s identified that the CJN was NOT arraigned on the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Monday, 14th January, 2019. And God forbid a SITTING CJN is arraigned in any court docket of regulation (we are going to come again to that presently).
For there to be a sound arraignment, three circumstances have to be met:
1. The accused have to be current in court docket and positioned within the dock unfettered.
2. The Charge have to be learn over and defined to the accused within the language that he understands to
the satisfaction of the Court.
3. The accused have to be known as upon to plead immediately to the cost.
In the moment case, not one of the circumstances was met. The defendant was not even current in court docket!
So, if the CJN was NOT arraigned, what occurred in court docket? Nothing! I imply, nothing pertaining to the COMMENCEMENT of a criminal trial passed off final Monday. Trial doesn’t begin in a criminal matter till the defendant takes his plea, and arraignment is the MANDATORY strategy of doing so.
The proper factor to report is that arraignment was stalled as a result of the jurisdiction of the court docket was challenged, and the defendant was but to be served with the cost in individual. Let us know what we’re reporting, please.
Now, why does it appear most legal practitioners are up in arms against this Government for ridiculing the judiciary with out as a lot regarding themselves with whether or not or not there may be advantage within the case?
First, Due Process. In regulation, justice should not solely be performed however be manifestly seen to be performed. In this clever, a breach of process is as essential a breach as a breach of administering the substantive regulation. This is moreso that it’s the Head of the judicial arm of Government in query, an arm of Government with the very delicate responsibility of administering justice and adjudicating disputes between any and each occasion, including these involving the Executive arm of Government. Public notion have to be effectively guarded. The day the general public moderately lose confidence within the good ethical standing of the Chief judicial officer is the start of the top of our democracy.
The lawmakers have of their knowledge supplied a disciplinary inner mechanism that resides with the National Judical Council. The Council is empowered to first examine a judicial officer accused of misconduct in the middle of his official responsibility, and if discovered culpable, droop or retire him, before he’s made to face trial within the common courts.
It is neater that manner. It is best. It is safer. Not solely for the preservation of the sanctity of the judiciary, but in addition for the preservation of the sanity of our democracy.
The second motive for the outcry is Politics. Like a discovered colleague posited, there are three sides to this case: the legality of it, the factual facet, and the politics of it. Sadly, the Government has in its unwisdom allowed the politics of it to overshadow the 2 extra necessary layers. What is with the haste? What is with the timing? What is with the desperation? A Government that’s famend for utilizing deodorant on the corruption petitions against these of his family and utilizing insecticide on these against his actual and perceived enemies can’t moderately deny politicising this sudden prosecution.
Nonetheless, regardless of the politics on the coronary heart of the matter, each patriotic Nigerian including legal professionals and judges, is fascinated about seeing this matter to its conclusion. Let this matter be pursued to its logical finish. Only let due course of be adopted.
One final phrase: the fears that the NJC may sweep the case under the carpet if positioned before it, seeing the CJN is the current chairman and would solely need to step down for his deputy to take over consistent with the precept of pure justice is misplaced. NJC shouldn’t be like political events that deal with critical allegations of immoral and criminal acts as household affairs. They are effectively in tune with the large ethical burden that comes with the career. It is for that reason that the reasoning of the Court is of an enormous significance to a lawyer, typically even above the choice of the court docket.
Sound logic, objectivity, and proper utility of regulation have to be present in any judicial choice. It can’t be every other manner. The NJC is aware of this. They know the entire world is watching. And they know these with the legal, and important coaching like theirs are equally watching.