A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Sebastin Hon, on Saturday described the charges of non-declaration of assets preferred against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, as political.
While conceding that the CJN does not enjoy immunity against criminal prosecution, the charges had the tendency of destroying the judiciary or gagging it.
He said in his statement on Saturday that what the Federal Government ought to do was to “in the interest of national peace and cohesion” defer “the filing of those charges till an opportune time – since there is no limitation of time in criminal proceedings”.
He also reminded “the federal prosecutors” who filed the case of the decisions of the Court of Appeal, “to the effect that unless and until the NJC pronounces a Judicial Officer guilty, he cannot be arraigned in court.”
He said in a statement, “While I know that the Chief Justice of Nigeria does not enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution, I see this move by the Federal Government as dangerously political and tendentious.
“Suddenly, we woke to see a petition leaked to the informal or social media, allegedly received by the Code of Conduct on 9th January 2019.
“Suddenly, we are told charges have been filed against the CJN.
“Suddenly the Presidency is reportedly asking him to step aside! Was he interrogated or interviewed and his own reactions obtained? Why this supersonic rush?
“These steps are more political than honest. There is an attempt to destroy the judiciary or gag it; and in the latter situation, to hector it into submission. I personally say no to this! All Nigerians of good will must say no to this unprovoked assault on the judiciary.
“After unsuccessful attempts to reign in the National Assembly, the same unholy attention is beamed on the Judiciary. If this arm of government is destroyed, due process, constitutionalism and the rule of law will pave the way to whimsical, narrow and brute force, at the instance of one man or a select few!“I personally say no to this.”