The Otu Oka-Iwu (Law Society) rose from an emergency executive meeting following the widely reported plan by the Code of Conduct Bureau to arraign the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen on what is generally believed to be trumped charges of non-declaration of assets.
The meeting considers the move as not only embarrassing but scandalous and a dent on the image of Nigeria as a democratic nation.
The meeting further resolved as follows:
1. Condemns without equivocation the move, attempt or plot to disgrace not only the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria but also the person of His Lordship, Hon. Justice Walter N. Onnoghen (GCON), a dedicated public servant who has given over forty (40) years of his life to the service of this country.
2. Calls on the Presidency to respect the doctrine of separation of powers, as the procedure for dealing with complaint against Judicial officers is a constitutional matter clearly spelt out in Section 158 of the 1999 Constitution.
3. Calls on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to institute a high-powered enquiry to determine the dramatis personae responsible for this national embarrassment with a view to bringing them to justice.
4. Calls on its members and indeed all lawyers to rise with one voice in defence of our hard-won democracy, the judiciary and indeed the legal profession. A situation where the President of the Nigerian Bar Association and the Chief Justice of Nigeria are being prosecuted for alleged offences barely one month to the general elections is very suspicious and a potent threat to our democracy. This is moreso when the Federal Government has turned a blind eye to grievous indictments against high-ranking members of the Buhari Administration ranging from certificate forgery to evading national service as well as misfeasance in relation to insurance scams and IDP camp contracts.
5. Finds it curious that a plot can be hatched to disgrace and unconstitutionally remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria from office without the knowledge of the Attorney General of the Federation and the Vice President of Nigeria, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria.
6. Calls on the President of the Nigerian Bar Association to turn the searchlight on these two key figures and indeed many senior lawyers in the administration of the Federal Government with a view to determine if there are cases of professional misconduct warranting disciplinary proceedings against them by the Nigerian Bar Association.
7. Recalls that during the tenure of General Muhammadu Buhari as Military Head of State, a “Roll of Dishonour” was created by the Nigerian Bar Association for lawyers who assist, encourage, advise, condone and or defend the government in its abuse and assault on democratic institutions and abridgment of human rights.
8. Notes that there has been consistent and determined assault on the judiciary and human rights since the last two years and lawyers who are high-ranking functionaries in this administration can no longer play the ostrich. They must be held to account for the advice they give to the government or for condoning the undemocratic actions of government.
9. Calls on the Federal Government to immediately withdraw the charges and apologize to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen and the entire judiciary and Nigerians for the embarrassment this reckless action has caused.
Chief Chuks Ikokwu
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