A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has described the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, as an attack on the constitution.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Onnoghen who was charged before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Jan. 14, with offences bordering on non declaration of assets, was suspended on Friday.
Justice Mohammed Tanko has been sworn in as the Acting CJN.
In a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos on Saturday, Agbakoba said that all actions ought to be stayed, pending the determination of several cases and appeals filed on the issue before various courts which ordered maintenance of status quo.
He said that the suspension contravenes the ruling of CCT on the matter.
“The CCT itself, adjourned proceedings in respect of Justice Onnoghen’s matter in order to determine if it has jurisdiction to try Justice Onnoghen; the suspension contravenes the ruling.
“There are at least six pending cases in superior courts of Nigeria and one in the Court of Appeal.
“All these cases ruled that Justice Onnoghen should remain in office pending when all cases against him are resolved.
“In any case Section 292 of the 1999 Constitution sets out the procedure for removing or suspending the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“The power to suspend or remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria vests in the Senate side of the National Assembly,” he said.
Agbakoba called for reversal of the suspension.
Also, a rights campaigner, Chief Malcom Omirhobo, told NAN that the suspension violated constitutional provisions.
Omirhobo said that the suspension of Onnoghen and appointment of Tanko as Acting CJN did not follow due process of law.
“It is insulting to ignore the order of the Court of Appeal asking parties in the suit between the CCT and the CJN to maintain status quo.
“As the law stands, Justice Mohammed Tanko was not recommended to the president by the Nigerian Judicial Council for appointment; therefore, such an appointment is unlawful.