* The CCT Does Not Have The Jurisdiction To Try Any Corruption Case
* It Was Wrong For The President To Say That The CJN Has Descended On A Small Arm Of The Judiciary
* I Believe Justice Tanko Will Do The Right Thing
* Calls On CJN To Taste The Validity Of The Ex-Parte Application
The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro, SAN, has said that he doesn’t blame President Buhari, but his handlers, for the decision he took by suspending the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Mr. Usoro made this statement during a TV Show known as #The Morning Show. According to him, he doesn’t blame President Buhari because he is not a lawyer. He noted that those who are lawyers that advised him ought to know that the CCT does not have the jurisdiction to try any corruption case, adding that corruption cases are to be tried by the High Court.
He also said that what the President should do in some cases is to ask for opinions so far as the law is concerned.
Speaking further, Mr. Usoro said that it was wrong for the president to say that the CJN has descended on a small arm of the Judiciary, stressing that the president has not been properly informed on that regard. He emphasized that the CCT is not part of the Judicial structure at all, but part of the Presidency, thus, it was wrong for the president to use an arm of the executive for the purposes of removing the CJN.
Mr. Usoro also added that the president is acting as if he is a judge. According to him, defenses of the CJN is to be pronounced upon by the Court and not the Presidency, adding that he expects the president to uphold the rule of law, as he had sworn to uphold the Constitution and the fundamental rule.
Mr. Usoro also spoke on the stand of the NBA over the suspension of the Chief Justice. He said that the focus of the NBA is the rule of law and following due process.
“The focus of the NBA is the rule of law and following due process. In any case, you cannot promote the rule of law, if you do not follow due process, and the issue before the NBA is that the suspension of the CJN is not provided for in our statute.
“This due process does not affect the Judiciary alone; it affects the justice sector and Nigeria as a whole. Once you temper with the rule of law and due process, then Nigeria is in danger, and that’s where we are,” he said.
He further added that actions have already been taken by the NBA on the issue. According to him, they have already called for an emergency meeting; and that the NBA has also called on the National Assembly to join and condemn the action, seeing that it is their powers that have been eroded. He also added that the NBA intends to also seat with the Executive to make them see their perspective, particularly those who are lawyers, as they are not going to be in the executive forever. He stressed that they will get back to the other end and join them. He, therefore, asked if they will be proud to see that the rule of law is violated if they are with them.
Answering questions on what he thinks about Honourable Justice Ibrahim Tanko, he said that he believes that His Lordship will do the right thing.
“I have great respect for his Lordship. I believe Ibrahim Tanko is reflecting on the present circumstance. I believe he will do the right thing, being an astute jurist.”
Speaking on the independence of the judiciary, he said that the judicial arm of government should be sacrosanct. He noted that the Judiciary is for the common man as well as the high and mighty. He, therefore, urged the president not to set a bad precedent, as he may need the same judiciary someday. He, therefore, called on the president to reverse the action he has taken.
“The president should speak to his people about the undue haste and what it speaks about the whole process. Do your self-cleansing before you talk about others.
“No matter what the motive is, follow due process, and if you don’t succeed, it simply means the law was not on your side,” he said.
He finally queried the practice of media trial carried on by the Federal Government. According to him, the Government started this media trial. He emphasized the fact that the Federal Government is not fair to the CJN as he is not permitted to speak to the media freely. He, however, advised the Chief Justice to test the validity of the ex-parte application upon which the president acted to suspend him.
“Once a notice has been served, there no need for an Ex-parte order. If it’s a genuine document, the president himself should have frowned upon it. The president should have questioned the process if he has the facts,” he said.