Miffed by the suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) has called for an emergency meeting of its National Executive Committee members.
President Muhammadu Buhari, acting on a ex-parte order made by two members of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) suspended Justice Onnoghen as the CJN, and consequently appointed the next most Senior Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Tanko Ibrahim as the acting CJN and Chairman of the NJC. The Federal Government is prosecuting Onnoghen on a six-count criminal charge bordering on non assets declaration of about five of his domiciliary accounts, domiciled with Standard Chattered Bank.
The defendant through his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) had challenged the jurisdiction of the tribunal to try the CJN. The tribunal had at the last adjourned fixed tomorrow to hear the application.
Similarly, the Court of Appeal, Abuja division had equally on Thursday ordered the tribunal to stay further proceedings in the trial pending the hearing and determination of an application seeking to stop the tribinal.
The three member panel of the appellate court led by Justice Abdul Aboki then fixed January 30 for ruling. However, the prosecution had later on Wednesday approached the tribunal with an exp-parte order praying it to compel the President to suspend Onnoghen pending his trial and appointment Tanko in acting capacity. The tribunal consequently granted the order.
The NBA through its National President, Paul Usoro (SAN) had strongly condemned this act by the President. As a follow up to this, the NBA through its General Secretary, Jonathan Taidi through a letter dated January 25, called for NEC meeting.
The letter reads in part: “There will be an Emergency National Executive Committee meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association on the date and at the time and venue specified hereunder.” The meeting, which is scheduled to hold tomorrow at the NBA House in Abuja, has only one agenda, “Purported Suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon Mr Justice Walter S C Onnoghen and Any Other Business.”