Onnonghen: Akwa Ibom State Attorney General calls for withdrawal of case, apology to CJN
The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Akwa Ibom State, Barr Uwemedimo Nwoko, has called on the Nigerian Bar Association NBA, to ensure an immediate withdrawal of the suit filed against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnonghen.
He also called on all the petitioners involved to tender an open apology letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Nwoko, who said this on Monday while interacting with some Journalists in his Office in Uyo, also warned that the manner with which the Federal Government went about the prosecution of the Chief Justice of Nigeria would lead to death of democratic institutions in the country.
According to him, “The Nigeria Bar Association should rise at this occasion and demand for not just withdrawal of purported charges against the CJN but an open apology by all the characters involved.”
He explained that he was not of the opinion that the CJN was above the law or should not be subjected to the laws of the land but expressed worry over the neglect to rule of law and due process to which the petition was characterised with.
“I am not saying that the CJN is above the law, but It is obvious that if an associate or an aide to President Buhari writes a petition to the President against the CJN, within 72 hours, they have already carried out investigations, concluded investigations and filed charges against the CJN. This should actually call for concern.
“Sadly, the Federal Government has not shown speed in trying other cases in which the accused in government were caught red-handed engaging in fraudulent activity,” he said.
He alleged that the prosecution of Justice Onnonghen was a ploy by the Federal Government to arm-twist and collapse the Judiciary and hand it over to people who they feel can do their biddings knowing fully well that the CJN cannot be intimidated or bought over when he would constitute formidable panel to hear election petitions.
He said that since the CJN assumed office, FG has not been able to get him dance to their tune recalling that APC-led Federal Government has lost all their bad cases because the CJN is straightforward and cannot be bought over.
The commissioner maintained that the travails of Onnonghen remained the worst thing to have happened to Nigeria’s democracy since the annulment of the June 12 elections, saying that federal government wanted to use all means to booth Onnonghen out of office.
“This is the first and single most potent, alarming and intolerable threat to democracy in Nigeria since 1999. Our democracy is facing real danger because this is the real perpetuation of dictatorship in the land.
“For me, it is an attempted coup to the entire government because a threat to the Judiciary is a threat to all the arms of government because they stand on a tripod and when one leg of the tripod is missing, the other two cannot stand. To me, it is an attempted coup against any arm of government is a threat
“But then, Nigerians are already aware of the symptoms of dictatorship by the President. I had warned and asked Nigerians not to ignore it. We were alarmed over the raid on residences of judges by hooded persons without court orders or search warrants. That was unimaginable, even Judges of the Supreme Court?” He recalled.
He, however, warned of the monumental damage this will cause the nation if FG proceeds with plans to convict Onnonghen.
Nwoko, therefore, called for the resignation of the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, for gross incompetence and inability to perform his expected role.
His words, “At this time, the Attorney General of the Federation, should honorably resign as the Chief Law Officer of the federation. Either based on his incompetency, or he is not allowed to do his job or the government does not take his advice. Which ever way, let him resign.”
Meanwhile, A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has stopped the presidency from arraigning the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Justice N.E Maha of the Federal High Court directed that no steps should be taken in respect of Justice Onnoghen’s trial until January 17 when all parties to the two suits should return to court for the hearing of the plaintiffs’ motion on notice.
The CJN was expected to appear before the Danladi Umar-led Code of Conduct Tribunal on Monday but was absent from the court. The Tribunal adjourned the matter till January 22.
Justice N.E Maha, while ruling on two separate ex parte applications on Monday, ordered parties to maintain status quo till January 17.
The judge directed that the defendants should be served with all the papers filed and they should appear in court at the next hearing.
Incorporated trustees of the Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative filed one of the suits marked FHC/ABJ/CS/27/2019.
Joined as defendants in the suit, are: the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, the Chairman of CCT, Danladi Umar; the National Judicial Council, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, and the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
Also the other suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/28/2019 was filed by the incorporated trustees of the International Association of Students Economists and Management.
The suit has as the defendants, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malami; the CCT, the CCB, the Chairman of CCT, Umar; and the Inspector-General of Police, Idris.
The ex parte application in the suit FHC/ABJ/CS/27/2019 was moved by R.A Lawal-Rabana (SAN), before Justice Maha on Monday, while the ex parte application filed in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/28/2019 was moved by Mr. Jeph Njikonye.
The applications were filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday while the CCT proceedings where Onnoghen was being expected to be arraigned was ongoing.