President Muhammadu Buhari has suspended the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, pending the completion of his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
Meanwhile, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed was immediately sworn in as acting CJN.
Buhari’s latest action is in total defiance of an Abuja court order restraining the CCT from proceeding with the CJN’s trial.
The suspension of the CJN has expectedly attracted wide condemnation from across the nation as the Nigerian Bar Association has called on the National Assembly to save Nigeria from what it described as a “coup against the judiciary.”
The NBA said this in a statement by its President, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), on Friday while reacting to the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
The association said in a statement titled, ‘Coup against the Nigerian judiciary and suspension of the Nigerian constitution,’ that President Muhammadu Buhari acted against the constitution by removing Onnoghen and swearing-in Justice Ibrahim Mohammed.
The NBA said, “We call on the Federal Government to avert the looming constitutional crisis precipitated by its ill-advised action. In particular, the Nigerian Bar Association demands the reversal of the purported suspension of. Justice Walter S C Onnoghen, GCON.
“We also call on the National Assembly to assert its constitutional authority and powers and prevent this slide into chaos and erosion of the rule of law.”
The association said the ex parte order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal which the President relied on in suspending Onnoghen was an abuse of court processes.
It added, “The NBA unequivocally rejects and condemns this attempted coup against the Nigerian Judiciary and evident suspension of the Nigerian Constitution by the executive arm of the Federal Government. The action of the executive portends a slide into anarchy and complete deconstruction of the rule of law and due process.
“It amounts to an absolute breach of the constitution and the usurpation of the powers of the Senate and the Nigerian Judicial Council. It is unfortunate that the executive branch of government purports to suspend the CJN on the basis of an alleged ex-parte order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal – the same Tribunal that, to the knowledge of the executive, had, only the previous day, Tuesday, 22 January 2019 adjourned its proceedings to Monday, 28 January 2019 and has before it a Motion on Notice that is yet to be argued, seeking the same reliefs as were contained in the purported ex-parte application, to wit, the suspension of the CJN, among others.”
ANR With Agencies