The president of the Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network (CRRAN), Barrister Olu Omotayo, has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of hijacking the constitution and attacking democratic institutions he swore to protect on assumption of office.
Omotayo said this following the recent suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Onnoghen Nkanu Walter Samuel by Buhari, one month to the general elections. “This action cannot be right because there are procedures for removing the CJN. But Buhari‘s excuse that he is obeying court order from the CCT is more like hijacking or suspending the constitution. The constitution provided for procedures for removing him and no court can breach these procedures. These procedures must be followed religiously,” he said.
Omotayo further argued that it was unconstitutional to remove someone whom the court has not found guilty of any crime. According to him, “everyone is presumed innocent until found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.”
“You have not tried someone and you are giving an order to remove him. It is untenable. He has not followed the constitution he swore to protect and defend. But the National Assembly is there to take action in this regard for the sake of the people they represent and Nigeria at large.
“Under Part 1 A, Item 3(e) of the Schedule to the Constitution, The Code of Conduct Bureau has the power to receive complaints about noncompliance of the provisions of the Code of Conduct or any law in relation thereto, investigate the complaint, and where appropriate, refer such matters to the Code of Conduct Tribunal.”
Recall that a six-count charge was filed against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Onnoghen Nkanu Walter Samuel for alleged non-declaration of assets, by operatives of Code of Conduct Bureau on the 11th January 2019.
The petition made against the chief justice was received in the office of the chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau on the 9th January 2019 and by 11th January, 2019, a criminal charge had already been filed by the operatives of the Code of Conduct Bureau at the Code of Conduct Tribunal lending credence to the belief in various quarters that it is a ploy to witch-hunt and force the CJN out of office barely a month to the general elections in the country.
In an earlier petition obtained by Orient Daily, Omotayo questioned the motive behind the speedy charge of the CJN by CCT. “In the instant case where a complaint was received against the Chief Justice on the 9th January 2019 and by morning of 11th January 2019, a charge was already filed before the Code of Conduct Tribunal against the Chief Justice clearly shows that something was wrong. Just a one-day investigation on the 10th day of January 2019?
“Furthermore it is submitted that it is only the National Judicial Council (NJC), that is constitutionally empowered by virtue of the provisions of (Part 1) I, Item 21(a) & (b) of the Third Schedule of the Constitution to: – discipline or recommend the appointment or removal of judicial officers. No other institution or authority can usurp this powers conferred on the National Judicial Council.
According to him, filing a charge against the Chief Justice before the Code of Conduct Tribunal does not take away the powers of the NJC in this regard. “The Chief Justice can only be excused from presiding over the deliberations of the National Judicial Council when issues relating to this matter are to be deliberated upon by the council.
“The federal government is advised that the best legacy this administration can bequeath to this country is to ensure that our institutions are strengthened but not to further weaken the wobbling institutions in the country. It would be recalled that similar assault which was launched at the legislature with the arraignment of the president of the senate, Bukola Saraki, at the inception of this administration only heated up the polity and also witnessed waste of tax payers’ money on a futile expedition which further worsened the relationship between the legislature and the executive in the country,” Omotayo said.