Nigeria: Onnoghen - ACF Backs Buhari's Action, Says North Can't Defend His Trial

Nigerian appeal court rejects judge's bid to stop trial.
30 January 2019

The apex northern socio- cultural organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum,ACF, has backed the suspension of Chief Justice of Nigeria,CJN,Justice Walter Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari.

ACF said, the forum deeply regreted the conduct of Justice Onnoghen, over his refusal to step aside and allow the due process of the law to take its course following his trial at Code of Conduct Tribunal,CCT.

ACF, noted that Onnoghen has created the impression that his personal interests in the ongoing trial supercede that of the judiciary and the nation.

In a communique signed by ACF's Secretary - General,Anthony Sani, after the forum's meeting in Kaduna, presided by its Chairman,Alhaji Adamu Fika, reads "The Board of Trustees (BOT), Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) met today, Tuesday, 29th January, 2019, under Alhaji Adamu Fika, GCON, Wazirin Fika, the Chairman. Members from all parts of the 19 Northern States and the FCT were also in attendance.

The Meeting discussed a number of issues, including the current controversies relating to the suspension from office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, His Lordship Justice Walter Onnoghen. The Meeting decided to issue the following Communiqué"

"The ACF notes that the allegation against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, are that he failed to comply with the expressed provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act, to wit, failure to declare his assets on assumption of office as Justice of the Supreme Court and as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

That when he was made to declare his assets as demanded by law, he failed to declare all of them.

That among the assets he failed to declare are bank accounts in local and foreign currencies whose values run in millions of Naira"

ACF explained further "He also failed to declare other assets, including many houses and other landed property. That subsequent investigations have continued to unearth other property belonging to Justice Onnoghen, not declared.

That Hon. Justice Onnoghen was said to have told investigators that the reason for his not declaring those assets was forgetfulness.

Following the discovery of these infractions, the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, swiftly referred the matter to the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT. Which made an order for the temporary suspension of the CJN in the interest of natural justice. However, this action by the CCT has provoked intense controversy"

The communique added "And yet, from a reading of all the facts of the matter, ACF cannot defend the position taken by the Hon. Justice Onnoghen, especially his insistence that he should first be tried by the National Judicial Council, of which he is Chairman. To do so would have allowed him the seat in judgment over his own case.

ACF deeply regrets the conduct of Justice Onnoghen, particularly his refusal to step aside and allow the due process o f the law to take its course. He has created the impression that his personal interests in this matter supersede that of the judiciary and the nation.

On their part, law enforcement agencies must strive to always execute their tasks in neat and professional manner in order to avoid creating perceptions of partisanship. In the end, Nigeria cannot hope to develop and take its rightful place in the comity of nations unless and until we learn to respect our laws and enforce them fairly and consistently" ACF said.

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