Let me say first that every state under international law is governed by laws of which the Constitution is chief, not emotions or ‘good intentions’. Take away this and you will birth uncertainties which will grow to full blown anarchy (A state of lawlessness).

Granted, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) admitted to the breach of Code of Conduct. A breach of Code of Conduct is not itself official corruption, neither can the Code of Conduct Bureau refer such a person to the Tribunal if the person concerned makes a written admission. See the proviso to section 3 (d) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, Cap C15 LFN 2014. Recall that the issue is not that the CJN did not declare all his assets but that he declared it in 2016 instead of 2012, which he admitted in writing. Case closed. The reason why the law says that such a person shall not be referred to the Tribunal is that the purpose of the Bureau is to ensure that a public officer whose attention has been brought to a breach henceforth complies.

What the President should do if he wants the CJN suspended or removed upon being satisfied after thorough executive investigation that the said assets were acquired corruptly and he perceives that such a person like the CJN shouldn’t remain in such office (note that a mere breach of Code of Conduct may not be official corruption itself) or he just wants him out because of the said breach is to take either of the following procedures:

Firstly, either he petitions to the National Judicial Council (NJC) who in fact investigates and adjudicates on breach of Code of Conduct for Judicial officers pursuant to s 292 (1) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), wherein the NJC may have the CJN suspended in order not to be a judge in his own case, investigate the said allegations and allow him make his defense in writing and if found liable recommend him to the President for removal. See also Nganjiwa v Federal Republic of Nigeria [2018] 4 NWLR (Pt 1609) 301.

Or Secondly, the President may lobby two-third majority of the Senate (Nigerian Upper Town Hall) to remove him based on the said breach pursuant to s 292 (1) (a) (i) of the said Constitution.

Or Thirdly, the President may allow the CJN get to the age of retirement and leave office by operation of law. See s 292 (1) of the said Constitution.
Any other procedure other than the afore stated is grossly unconstitutional and tyrannical. The issue as to the fact that the head of a Court in Nigeria cannot be removed either temporarily or permanently from office without the recommendation of NJC was laid to rest by the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the case of Elelu-Habeeb v AGF (2012) 40 WRN 1.

Let me ask those of you applauding Mr President, now that the President has committed an impeachable offence by impliedly suspending the Constitution, can I approach the Court for an Exparte Order Mandating the Senate President to suspend President Buhari and appoint Prof Osibanjo as the Acting President pending the outcome of his impeachment proceedings? You know the answer. It follows that President Buhari cannot also do so to the CJN, not even to the Senate President.

We must all shun partisanship and be courageous to fight for National interest in such a time as this. Say no to NextLevel Dictatorship. You may not understand the importance of the Rule of Law until tyranny gets to your door step.

S.O. Eli, Esq writes from SetBless Law Consult, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

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