Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer, has called on the federal government to withdraw charges against the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Falana condemned the move by the government to press charges against Onnoghen in a statement on Sunday, according to Channels Television
The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), had filed criminal charges against Justice Onnoghen at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, over an alleged failure to declare his assets, as well as operating a domiciliary account.
In his reaction, the senior advocate asked the Attorney-General of the Federation to withdraw the charges against the CJN.
He said, “The charge against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, ought not to have been instituted at the Code of Conduct of Tribunal in view of the case of Nganjiwa v FRN (2017) LPELR 43391 wherein the Court of Appeal held that a judicial officer who has not been investigated by the National Judicial Council and sanctioned for misconduct cannot be arraigned in any criminal court in Nigeria.”
“As all authorities are bound by the Court of Appeal verdict, the case should be withdrawn by the Attorney-General of the Federation without any delay because it is likely to be a prosecutorial misadventure.”
The CCT had said it would commence the CJN’s trial on Monday, January 14, on six charges.
It explained that the charges were filed before it by the CCB, based on a petition signed by the Executive Secretary of the anti-corruption research data-based initiative, Dennis Aghanya.
Apart from Falana’s reaction, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), has also criticized government’s action.
The NBA described the proposed trial as an “assault on the judiciary”, saying it must be stopped as it does not follow the rule of law.
It also decried the speed at which the case was being handled and alleged that all due protocols were not unobserved.