The Nigerian Bar Association has described as an outright coup Friday’s suspension of Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria.
In a statement by the NBA, it rejected Mr Onnoghen’s replacement with another Supreme Court justice, Ibrahim Tanko, and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately reverse the suspension to avert a constitutional crisis.
The NBA described the recent developments as a step towards anarchy and demanded its immediate retraction.
Read the NBA’s full statement below:
COUP AGAINST THE NIGERIAN JUDICIARY AND
SUSPENSION OF THE NIGERIAN CONSTITUTION
1. The news media has been awash this evening with the news of the purported
suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honorable Mr. Justice Walter S C
Onnoghen, GCON by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR and the swearing in of
Hon Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria. We
are told that this was pursuant to an Ex-Parte Order that was issued by the Code of Conduct Conduct Tribunal on Wednesday, 23 January 2019.
2. The Nigerian Bar Association 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 is of the Executive portends a slide into anarchy and complete deconstruction of the same 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.
3. 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 first previous day, Tuesday, 22 January 2019 adjourned its proceedings to Monday, 28 and January 2019 and has before it a Motion on Notice that is yet to be argued, seeking a the same reliefs as were contained in the purported ex-parte application, to wit, the state capital suspension of the CJN, amongst others.4. 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 Honorable Mr. 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.
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