Onnoghen’s Arraignment: Senior Advocates Call for Caution

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BoSAN) has called on all Nigerians including the executive arm and members of the Nigeria legal profession to exercise restraint over the scheduled arraignment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.

The Federal government has preferred a six count criminal charge against Onnoghen before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), over the CJN alleged failure to declare some of his assets.

The CCT had scheduled Onnoghen’s arraignment for last Tuesday but the arraignment did not take place owing to the absence of the CJN, who claimed he had not been properly served with the summons of the tribunal.

This led Chairman of the CCT, Danladi Umar, to adjourn till January 22 for the arraignment with an order that the defendant be personally served with the tribunal summons.

But the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, rising from its crucial meeting held in Lagos on Saturday, over the issue and other matters considered to be of national importance, said people should be cautious in the way and manner they go about the matter, adding that the issue is capable of having huge impact on the country’s democracy as well as the administration of criminal justice.

BoSAN, in a communiqué signed by Professor Ben Nwabueze SAN and Seyi Sowemimo SAN, said it “deplores the situation that has arisen from the preferment of charges against the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and head of the Nigerian Judiciary before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT)”.

To this end, it urges respect for the constitution, rule of law, separation of powers, due process and the proper administration of justice.

“In the prevailing circumstances, all parties are urged to consider the impact of their respective actions on the administration of justice in Nigeria and public confidence in our institutions.

“The body recognises that the matter is sub judice ( before the CCT and other courts) and it is therefore not appropriate to comment on the merits or otherwise of any of the cases”, part of the communiqué read.

It however called for a careful and responsible resolution of the matter in the interest of the legal profession and the nation.

BoSAN added that it would continue to endorse the core values of good governance, public integrity and sustenance of democracy and the spirit of the Constitution.