The great and learned students of the the Faculty of Law, University of Maiduguri were not silent over the Jurisdiction of the Court of Conduct Tribunal to trial the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the the suspension of the CJN by the President under the recommendation of the Court of Conduct Tribunal.
Justice Walter was suspended and replaced by Justice Mohammad who is now the acting CJN.
The suspension of justice Walter has hit global reaction.
The Students of the Faculty of Law, University of Maiduguri went hardcore to define the action of the President constitutionally. The smooth and mind blowing debate between the students started an hour after the suspension of the CJN in the Law Students Association of Nigeria whatsapp group. Different sections and different laws were quoted by the students in defence.
Zaks argued that the “constitution is not seen practically but theoretically”
Modu heated the debate with a swift comment. His comment reads
“Okay the question now is what if Walter is found guilty of the count charges made against him? Will he be removed completely from his office because he is suspended not dismissed, and it is pending upon his trial.
Let’s assume he is found guilty and finally dismissed from his office . who will be the CJN? Is that not the current acting CJN Muhammed Tanko?
Because he is the most senior justice- section 231(4) CFRN. Does the said section further requires any recommendation from the NCJ ?
Is just a question”
Gambino argued in favor of the decision of the President saying “The CCT ordered the president to suspend him and he obeyed the court order. N now u want to tell us that the president is wrong n his action is against the law”
JusticeMy went further to support Gambo in answering the previous question adding his comment thus
“am sorry sir I need to know where the president violated the constitution ?
1. Is it the suspension of the CJN. By the president tha Is unconstitutional. I believe the presidebt has constitutional piwer over that sec.292(1)(
2. Appointment of tanko as an acting CJN. Which is in due process lead down by the constitution. Sec
3. Trial by the court of conduct tribunal on justice onnoghe for the the allegations in the petition which are grievous enough in themselves, the security agencies who have since then traced other suspicious transactions running into millions of dollars to the CJNs personal accounts, all undeclared or improperly declared as required by law
What about the provision of the
CODE OF CONDUCT FOR PUBLIC OFFICE
Pleas check your constitution sir
Code of conduct for public officers : General
1. A public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.
2. Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing paragraph, a public officer shall not— (a) receive or be paid the emoluments of any public office at the same time as he receives or is paid the emoluments of any other public office ; or (b) except where he is not employed on full time basis, engage or participate in the management or running of any private business, profession or trade but nothing in this sub-paragraph shall prevent a public officer from engaging in farming.
3. The President, Vice-President, Governor, Deputy Governor, Ministers of the Government of the Federation and Commissioners of the Governments of the States, members of the National Assembly and of the Houses of Assembly of the States, and such other public officers or persons as the National Assembly may by law prescribe shall not maintain or operate a bank account in any country outside Nigeria.
4.—(1) A public officer shall not, after his retirement from public service and while receiving pension from public funds, accept more than one remunerative position as chairman, director or employee of— (a) a company owned or controlled by the government ; or (b) any public authority. (2) A retired public servant shall not receive any other remuneration from public funds in addition to his pension and the emolument of such one remunerative position.
5.—(1) Retired public officers who have held offices to which this paragraph applies are prohibited from service or employment in foreign companies or foreign enterprises. (2) This paragraph applies to the offices of President, Vice-President, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Governor and Deputy Governor of a State.
6.—(1) A public officer shall not ask for or accept property or benefits of any kind for himself or any other person on account of anything done or omitted to be done by him in the discharge of his duties. (2) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (1) of this paragraph, the receipt by a public officer of any gifts or benefits from commercial firms, business enterprises or persons who have contracts with the government shall be presumed to have been received in contravention of the said sub-paragraph unless the contrary is proved. (3) A public officer shall only accept personal gifts or benefits from relatives or personal friends to such extent and on such occasions as are recognised by custom : Provided that any gift or donation to a public officer on any public or ceremonial occasion shall be treated as a gift to the appropriate institution represented by the public officer, and accordingly, the mere acceptance or receipt of any such gift shall not be treated as a contravention of this provision.”
Jubril ended the debate as at yesterday sharing a heavy note from MD which reads “CJN SUSPENSION, IS IT CONSTITUTIONAL?
by MD. EMO
I have often tried to keep my political opinions to myself and let the government enjoy it’s rule, HOWEVER, now that it relates to constitutional issues, I am persuaded to drop this,
The purported suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Honourable Justice Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari, is not only unconstitutional, it is illegal, immoral and it is a flagrant violation of the 1999 CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA [As Ammended]
A Nigeria is a federation and operates under the principle of separation of powers [ sections 4, 5, and 6] of the constitution
B The legislature, executive and judiciary are three independent arms of government
C The office of the Chief Justice Of Nigeria is a creation of the constitution by virtue of Sections 230 (1) (a) and 231 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended)
D The Chief Justice of Nigeria is the head and symbol of authority of the Nigerian Judiciary.
E The Judiciary is neither an agency of the federal government nor a department in the Executive. It is one of the three Arms of Government and is established by Section 6 of the Constitution.
F The CJN is to the judicial arm of government what the President is to the executive arm. The three arms are co-equals and none is subservient to the other.
G The procedure for appointment and removal of the CJN has been prescribed by the constitution and the President cannot appoint or remove the CJN unilaterally or at Will,
H That no court, tribunal, president or other authority or person in Nigeria can derogate from, override or alter the procedure stipulated by the constitution.
I That the constitution is SUPREME and it is the fons et origo of all laws and it is the yard stick for measuring the validity of all governmental actions.
J By Section 231 (1) and (2) of the Constitution, the appointment of the CJN requires the compulsory involvement of the three arms of government. The President appoints the CJN on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC) subject to the approval of the Senate.
K By virtue of Section 292 (1) and Paragraph 20 and 21 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution, the CJN enjoys security of tenure and is not removable except within the strict procedure and for the specific reasons enshrined therein.
L The CJN as a judicial officer can only be removed from office by the President acting on an address supported by TWO-THIRD (2/3) MAJORITY OF THE SENATE, for his inability to discharge the functions of his office or appointment (whether arising from infirmity of mind or body) or for misconduct or contravention of the Code of Conduct. Anything contrary to this procedure is unconstitutional.
M The NJC has not recommended the removal of Justice Onnoghen to the President. The NJC has not exercised its exclusive disciplinary control over Justice Onnoghen. Only the NJC is constitutionally vested with the power of disciplinary control, including power of suspension, over a judicial officer. In exercising that power, Section 158 (1) of the Constitution states that the NJC shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other authority or person. See the case of HON. JUSTICE RALIAT ELELU-HABEEB & ANOR. ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION & 2 ORS. (2012) NWLR (PT. 629) 1011 where the Supreme Court emphatically pronounced on the issue of how a judicial officer can be sanctioned.
at this point let me let me adopt the argument of my learned senior I. Effiong, he argued that
N The Certified True Copy of the enrolled ex-parte order made by the Code of Conduct Tribunal dated Wednesday, 23rd January, 2019. was extremely offensive to the Rule of Law. The Order seeks to achieve that which the Constitution has unarguably forbidden.
O The enrolled order signed by the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Hon. Danladi Y. Umar, and one other member of the Tribunal (Hon. Mrs. Julie A. Anabor), purports to direct Hon. Justice Onnoghen to ‘’step aside’’ as the CJN and Chairman of the NJC pending the determination of the Motion on Notice dated the 10th day of January, 2019. On the face of the said order, the name of the legal practitioner who moved the motion ex-parte is not stated. This is rather strange. Did the Tribunal suo moto (on its own motion) move the motion?
P He argued further that Interestingly, the same Tribunal sat on Tuesday, 22nd January, 2019 and adjourned to Monday, 28th January, 2019 to rule on the Preliminary Objection filed by Justice Onnoghen challenging the jurisdiction of the CCT to try him without recourse to the NJC contrary to the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of NGANJIWA v FRN (2017) LPELR-43391(CA).
Q The law is firmly settled that once the jurisdiction of a court or judicial tribunal is challenged, the only jurisdiction the court has is to determine whether it has jurisdiction. The CCT having been seized of the frontal challenge to its jurisdiction, could not have granted an ex-parte order on the 23rd of January, 2019 without determining whether it has jurisdiction. In the recent case of ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION v. ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF LAGOS STATE (2017) LPELR-42769(SC), the Supreme Court restated this sacrosanct principle thus:
“There is no gainsaying that issue of jurisdiction is radical and a crucial point which when raised, is challenging the competence of the Court to hear and determine the case. the Court must first of all assume jurisdiction to decide whether in very clear and unambiguous terms, it has or lacks jurisdiction. See State Dosunmu Mansion vs Halliburton Energy Services Ltd (2007) 2 NWLR [pt.108) 211; Nnonye v Anyichie (2005) 2 NWLR (pt. 910) 623. Per SANUSI, J.S.C. (p. 43-45, pp. D – A).
R The CCT, without determining whether it has jurisdiction over Justice Onnoghen as required by law, proceeded to give a flagrantly illegal order purporting to suspend the CJN from office. That order, with the greatest respect, is reminiscent of the inglorious order given by Justice Bassey Ikpeme stopping further announcement of results of the June 12, 1993 presidential election which crystalized into the criminal nullification of the June 12, 1993 election by the Babangida junta.”
S I have read the long statement made by President Buhari while swearing-in Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria. Buhari struggled unsuccessfully to justify his unlawful action by relying on the order of the CCT. The Constitution does not say that the President shall suspend the CJN based on the order of a court or tribunal. It is a desecration of our Constitution for Buhari to suspend Justice Onnoghen.
T Those arguing that the President merely suspended the CJN and has not removed him are either oblivious of the law or willfully mischievous. The CJN is not an appointee of the President and does not hold office at the pleasure of the President. President Buhari cannot suspend the CJN. The CCT cannot give an order directing the President to remove or suspend the CJN. The CCT cannot ask the CJN to ‘’step aside’’. This conspiratorial attack on the institution of the Judiciary is a dangerous precedent. Can a judge give an order suspending the President from office without recourse to the National Assembly? If the answer is in the negative, why should the President suspend the CJN whose tenure is constitutionally protected without recourse to the NJC and the Senate as prescribed in the Constitution?
U The CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar, is himself a subject of a pending criminal charge filed by Mr. Festus Keyamo at the Federal High Court on behalf of the EFCC. The CCT Chairman despite the pendency of the criminal charges against him, has not stepped aside and has not been suspended.
V If this is the acclaimed fight against corruption why was Kemi Adeosun not protected after forging NYSC certificate
Mr. Okoi Obono-obla, the President’s aide on Public Prosecutions, has not been fired, arrested or prosecuted despite his indictment by the House of Representatives for certificate forgery as attested publicly by the West African Examination Council. Mr. Maina is yet to be prosecuted for allegedly stealing pension funds. There are myriads of odiferous corruption cases against people and officials who are close to this President. Yet, Buhari continues to shield alleged criminals who are his friends and party men. Mr. Buhari is accusing Justice Onnoghen of failure to declare his assets, however, it is on record that Buhari’s own asset declaration is still shrouded in secrecy, and has not been publicly disclosed as he vehemently promised in 2015. What could be more hypocritical than this?
W with all due respect to our leaned senior, Prof. Itse Sagay who argued that the president may suspend the CJN for breach of the Code of Conduct, assuming but not conceding he is correct, where is the the constitutional provision of Presumption of innocence operative? section 36(5) of the constitution.
the CJN has not been indictted for the alleged offences charged, can the president exercise such powers assuming he had it?
X The president has by so doing, acted ultra vires with flagrant violation of the constitution which he swore to protect
Y the president has acted without regards to the power of the Senate And in total disregard to to constitutional powers of the NJC
Z the president is leading to way to tyranny and dictatorship and the National Assembly should wake up and save our dear Nation from tyranny
Navajo Douglas Tswanoemo
(I. Effiong Akwld)
The question left unanswered is that posted by Bashir Muhammed “Does the president acted on his behalf or an order was given to him????”
Indeed, University of Maiduguri is endowed with great students who will defend this country in days to come.
Unimaid is where men are made!