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Olisa Agbakoba Drags AGF & NJC to Court over Onnoghen’s Suspension

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Olisa Agbakoba Drags AGF & NJC to Court over Onnoghen’s Suspension
Olisa Agbakoba

A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has dragged the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the National Judicial Council (NJC) to court over the suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).

In the suit filed before the Federal High Court in Lagos, the Constitutional lawyer asked the court to declare as unconstitutional the procedure adopted by President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend Onnoghen.

President Buhari suspended Onnoghen as the CJN on January 25 over allegations of non-declaration of assets and immediately swore in Justice Tanko Muhammad to replace Onnoghen in an acting capacity.

Agbakoba in the suit urged the court to overturn Onnoghen’s suspension on the ground that Judicial Officers including the Chief Justice of Nigeria enjoy Judicial Immunity and have constitutionally guaranteed tenure of office that can only be interfered with by the administrative action of the National Judicial Council or the President acting on an address supported by two thirds majority of the Senate.

The Senior Advocate is praying the court to determine, “Whether by the combined interpretation of Section 153 (1)(i), Paragraph 21 (b) of the 3rd Schedule and Section 292 (1) (a) (i) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as (amended) the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen can be suspended or removed from office except on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council or the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate”.

He also prayed the court to among other things, declare that “by the combined interpretation of Section 153 (1)(i), Paragraph 21 (b) of the 3rd Schedule and Section 292 (1)(a) (i) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as (amended) the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen cannot be suspended or removed from office except on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council or the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate.

“Any such further order or orders as the Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance”, he prayed the court.

In an affidavit he filed in support of his suit, Agbakoba said, “I know that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 provides for the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria and that the Chief Justice of Nigeria can only be removed based on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council or an address by the President supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate.

“I am fully aware that contrary to the provisions of the Constitution, the President suspended the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, based on an exparte order from the Code of Conduct Tribunal on the 25th of January 2019”, he averred.

Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

(ThisDayLive)

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