Senator Ida list out 8 reasons Buhari is right for suspending CJN, Onnoghen
Senator Ibrahim Ida has taken his time and listed no fewer than eight reasons he believed President Muhammadu Buhari is right to suspend Chief of Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Senator Ida stated his reasons while responding to the spokesperson of CUPP, Barrister Ikenga who earlier issued statement condemning the act of the President.
But Senator Ida, who is a Barrister too, has this to say:
Sen. (Barr) Ibrahim Ida, CON
I had cause to join issues with the Spokesperson of the so called CUPP on the CJN saga, and below is my last submission to the person (Barr. Ikenga) on the matter. I have tried to make it as simple as possible, and devoid of legal jargon. Enjoy reading it, pls:
“Mr dear Barrister Ikenga
I have listened to your press conference on this issue and I am sorry to say that after listening to it, instead of being convinced that the President has done something wrong, my belief is further reinforced that what the President did is absolutely right. I base my stand on the following:
1. The Law establishing the Code of Conduct Tribunal enshrouded it with the power to try all public officers. The definition of public officers by same Act includes ALL Judicial Officers, thus the CJN inclusive! Therefore, the CJN can, and was rightly arraigned before the CCT when he was found to have committed the CRIME of not declaring his assets correctly, as he was required to do when he became the CJN.
2. Somewhat curiously, but definitely not based on any real legal reasoning, the CJN, along with his 47 politically motivated SANs, objected to the CJN’s arraignment before the CCT on the ground that the matter falls under the jurisdictional purview of the NJC. They went to the extent of procuring Orders of the National Industrial Court, and Federal High Court directing the CCT to suspend the trial pending the hearing of certain applications. Quite rightly in my view, the CCT refused on the ground that the NICN and the FHC are of coordinate jurisdiction with the CCT. That is a very sound legal reasoning!
3. Thereafter, the CJN rushed to the Court of Appeal and obtained an Order suspending the trial at CCT pending the determination of an appeal he (the CJN) had filed at the same Court of Appeal.
The pertinent question to ask here is, what was the CJN Appealing against when he had not even been formally arraigned before the CCT and his plea taken? I guess it was a Preliminary Objection he filed not an Appeal. At least that is what he is supposed to have done. But if it was indeed a Preliminary Objection that he filed at the Court of Appeal, could the CJN jump the CCT and file the Preliminary Objection at the Court of Appeal, given that the Court of Appeal is not a Court of First Instance for such matters?
4. To me, any way one looks look at it, one can’t help deducing that the CJN definitely took a wrong step.
Besides, looking at the CJN’s ground of Objection/Appeal, that suggests that the matter be first heard by the NJC is defective. The Court of Appeal, in FRN Vs. Nganjiwa, had decided that if a judge commits CRIME such as Arson, Murder, Rape etc he can be prosecuted by the State in the appropriate court. But if the allegation against the judge borders on breach of his/her ethics as a judicial officer, or issues relating to his/her duty as a judge, the NJC has exclusive jurisdiction to handle any petition or complain against him/her.
5. The question to ask, therefore, is this: Is a failure of a judge to disclose his assets in an Asset Declaration Excercise a crime, or a violation of professional/judicial ethics?
It is definitely a crime because it is an offence which the law has prescribed to be a crime and is not something peculiar to judges alone. And in the event, you would agree that failure to disclose assets of by CJN is a crime under the CCT, and the CCB Act, and it applies to all public officers including judiciary, military, paramilitary and all officers in the civil and other specified public officers.
6. I, therefore, humbly submit that no amount of legal or political arguments, no matter how cleverly canvassed can get the CJN out of this legal pot hole, without his being tried by a court of competent jurisdiction. And that court is no other than the CCT.
7. On the political side, as the head of the judiciary, he cannot remain in office while he is being tried, because the case has the prospect of going up go the SUPREME COURT, which he presides. One of the cardinal principles of natural justice is NEMO JUDEX IN CAUSA SUA, which literally means “No one should be a judge in his own case”.
The CJN, more than most people knows this rule and should strictly abide by it.
On the strength of the foregoing submission, I submit that POLITICALLY, SOCIALLY, AND INDEED LEGALLY, PMB was absolutely right in taking the decision he did!
I rest my case
Sen.(Barr) Ibrahim Ida, CON