Agbakoba to Buhari: Onnoghen’s suspension is gravest insult to Nigerian constitution

By Valentine Amanze

“Nigerians must resist President Buhari’s attack on the constitution”

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dr Olisa Agbakoba, has condemned President Muhammadu Buhari’s suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
He described the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria as the most brazen assault on Nigeria`s constitutional history.
In a statement titled, “Nigerians must resist President Buhari’s attack on the constitution”
which he personally signed, Agbakoba said that the suspension obviously means that the President did not listened to the advice of the Attorney General of the Federation or the Attorney General of the Federation misadvised him or both.
He dismissed Buhari’s claims that the suspension of the Chief Justice Onnoghen was pending the determination of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
According to him, the CCT itself adjourned proceedings in respect of Justice Onnoghen`s matter to determine if it had jurisdiction to try Justice Onnoghen.
Agbakoba further pointed out that the President`s decision contravened the Ruling of the CCT.
“There are atleast six (6) 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. These Rulings bind the President of Nigeria.
“In any case Section 292 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria sets out the procedure for removing or suspending the Chief Justice of Nigeria”.
He reminded Buhari that the power to suspend or remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria vests in the Senate side of the National Assembly.
“For all these reasons the purported suspension of Chief Justice Onnoghen is the gravest insult to Nigerian constitution in history. It is difficult to understand how President Buhari will expect my vote of confidence in the February polls if he wantonly denigrates and desecrates our Constitution,” he said.
Besides, Agbakoba appealed to Nigerians to take the strongest possible view of the President`s conduct, stressing, “I am shocked that Mr. Justice Mohammed Tanko would have offered himself to be sworn in as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.”
He, however, advised the Chief Justice of Nigeria to refuse to be pushed out of office.
He also urged the NBA, judges and civil society groups to rise to resist the “assault to our constitution,” which he said would lead to constitutional anarchy.

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