Home / News / Local / Powers to remove CJN vested in Senate – Agbakoba …says Nigerians must resist Buhari’s action

Powers to remove CJN vested in Senate – Agbakoba …says Nigerians must resist Buhari’s action

Olisa Agbakoba (SAN)

Robert Awokuse

Senior lawyer Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) says the power to suspend or remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria vests in the Senate of the National Assembly.
Agbakoba, who was reacting to the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari, described the development as “the most brazen assault on Nigeria’s constitutional history,” calling on all Nigerians to resist the action.
His position is contained in a statement made available to Global Patriot Newspapers, GPN.

Agbakoba, who expressed shock over the development, said the President must have either refused a lawful counsel of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami on the matter or was misadvised to have taken such decision.
“The President has obviously not listened to the advice of the Hon. Attorney General of the Federation or the Attorney General of the Federation has misadvised him or both,” Agbakoba said.

He described claims by President Buhari that the suspension of Onnoghen is pending the determination of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, as untrue.

“This is simply not true. The CCT itself adjourned proceedings in respect of Justice Onnoghen’s matter in order to determine if it had jurisdiction to try Justice Onnoghen.”

The senior lawyer said the president’s decision contravenes the ruling of the CCT adding that there are “at least six pending cases in superior courts of Nigeria and one in the Court of Appeal”.

He stressed that all the cases ruled that Justice Onnoghen should remain in office pending when all charges against him are resolved.

“These rulings bind the President of Nigeria and I am shocked that Mr. Justice Mohammed Tanko would have offered himself to be sworn in as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria,” he stated.

Agbakoba said Section 292 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (Amended) sets out the procedure for removing or suspending the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

He said “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.”

While calling on all Nigerians to take the “strongest possible view of the President’s conduct, Agbakoba urged Onnoghen to refuse to be pushed out of office.

He also charged the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, judges, Civil Society Organizations, rights activists, among others to rise and resist what he described as ” assault to our constitution”.

“This is potentially the beginning of our descent into constitutional anarchy,” he concluded.

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