Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), on Sunday said Buhari only suspended the former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and had not removed him from office.
Sagay said if Onnoghen, who was suspended by the Federal Government following a recommendation of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, was eventually cleared of all wrongdoings, he would automatically resume to his position as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“I have been questioned on this matter and I have said the suspension of the former CJN by President Muhammadu Buhari is both morally and legally valid.
“Morally, it is valid because as head of such a major institution, where you are supposed to show standard of ethics and good conduct, where such an allegation is made against you, even if you have to defend it, you must step down.
“You must step down because the charges will be heard in institutions which are headed by you, the CJN. There is no way it is going to be a fair process if you are still sitting there at the top and your underlings are the ones hearing the petitions that have been brought against you. So, it is not just morally right for him to remain there while the case is being heard.
“On the legal issue, I have two approaches, which is that a tribunal, which is a court of law, has made an order and the government is bound to carry out that order. That is exactly what has happened. The order by the tribunal is that the CJN should step down immediately.
“The moment that order was issued, the CJN ceased to be Chief Justice of Nigeria. He became acting because that order did not sack him but stepped him down from his position, pending the hearing of the case. So, with that order, the CJN is no longer in a position to exercise his power as Chief Justice pending the hearing of the petition.”
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