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The #Onnoghen Affair: Finding a Way Forward

Press Release, Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja, 27th January 2019

#OnnoghenSuspension
#OnnoghenGate

THREAD!
On Friday, @NGRPresident suspended d CJN, Walter Onnoghen putting #Nigeria on the path to constitutional crisis especially cos he immediately swore in Justice Tanko Muhammad as his interim replacement without allowing the NJC & other arms of govt play their constitutional roles.
The @NGRPresident is aware that he has no such powers, so he justified his action by claiming he was obeying a directive from the Code of Conduct Tribunal, before which Mr Onnoghen is standing trial.

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The Tribunal, however, has no such powers, and CDD strongly avers that the @NGRPresident must backtrack from his action as a prerequisite for resolving the quagmire as resolving the predicament we find ourselves in as a country.

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#NigeriaDecides2019
The Constitution is clear that the powers of appointment and removal are shared powers which the President cannot exercise alone.

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It's also settled law that only d NJC is constitutionally vested with the authority of disciplinary control including that of suspension of an erring judicial officer. The removal of the CJN has created much concern with d way processes of court & law are flagrantly being abused.
The current crisis ensued over d allegation of massive amounts of money in various Naira & foreign currency accounts as well as property which d Chief Justice of Nigeria, by his own admission had forgotten to declare as required by law.

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Mr Onneghen had himself presided over the establishment of the jurisprudence for suspension of all judicial officers charged for wrongdoing.

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He, therefore, had an absolute responsibility to step down immediately and allow the National Judicial Council deliberate and take a decision on the matter.

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Instead of taking d irresponsible action to stop d 88th statutory meeting of the NJC scheduled to hold on January 15, 2019, which could have deliberated on the matter and taken a proper decision based on the facts of the case & precedent.

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We are less than three weeks away from the Presidential elections, and Nigeria cannot afford a constitutional crisis at this time, or at any other time.

The Centre for Democracy and Development Avers as follows:

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#NigeriaDecides2019
1) That @NGRPresident @MBuhari has no unilateral constitutional power to Appoint, Remove or Suspend the CJN. He should immediately retrace his steps and withdraw the illegal appointment of Tanko Mohammed as Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.

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2) That #Onnoghen has serious charges levelled against him, & it's morally reprehensible for him to continue to stay in office until all matters are judiciously dispensed with, we, therefore, call on him to immediately step down & convene the NJC to meet & make a determination.
3a) Nigerians are seriously concerned about the entrenched culture of #corruption & impunity in the country. Therefore, it beholds on the NJC to ensure justice is not just done but seen to be done in the CJN matter.

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3b) And importantly, the Nigerian government is reminded that it must tackle corruption in adherence to the spirit and letters of the Nigerian Constitution.

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4a) Importantly, the Buhari Administration must note that resort to jackboot tactics such as witnessed in the unfolding Justice Onnoghen matter is delegitimising the forthcoming #NigeriaDecides2019 in the eyes of Nigerians and the comity of Nation.

#OnnoghenSuspension
4b) CDD is reiterating that election is a process and not an event, therefore, all actions that unravel in the lead up to the elections either positive or negative will impact the integrity of the election.

Signed
Idayat Hassan,
Director, Centre for Democracy and Development
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