|Justice Walter Onnoghen|
Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen has alleged interference of the Executive Arm of government in the proceedings before the CCT.
Justice Onnoghen spoke through his lead counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN.
Awomolo decried that framers of the 1999 constitution omitted to give attention to the need for the CCT to secure its independence, impartiality and non interference from external forces.
In a press statement he issued in Abuja, Awomolo said: “A situation where the executive arm of the Federal Government is the Custodian of the Code of Conduct for public officers, the enforcer of the Code of Conduct through the Tribunal. It is the appointing authority of the members of the Tribunal. In the proceedings in the Tribunal, the executive is the accuser, the investigator, Prosecutor, the witness and the judge, all roll together into one.
“This is unacceptable under the Constitution that guarantees independence of the 3 arms of Government. There is urgent need for Constitutional reform.
“The Code of Conduct Tribunal must have courts established in each of the six geopolitical zones of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Monopoly has the ability to breed corruption, arrogance, disregard for the due process and partiality.
“The Code of Conduct Tribunal should be a full member or part of the judiciary under Section 6 of the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, 199? (as amended).
“The third lesson is that the case has clearly shown that Nigerian judiciary is very weak, vulnerable and not independent. The security of tenure of a judicial officer is a mere wishful thinking.
“it is unthinkable that the head of the judiciary will be treated the way Onnoghen was treated and not a whimper came from the body of men and women of highest distinction in the legal profession. Is it not dangerous that the President can appoint a Chief Justice without the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC)?
“Whereas political matters and election maters were treated with dispatch, and judgment delivered within hours, the appeal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, six weeks after argument was ordered to be kept away in the file.
“There is no association of Nigerian Judges to speak a word. Let no public officers or judicial officer at any level, throw stones because if not all, most are guilty as Onnoghen.
“Nobody knows who is next, a precedent has been laid. The honourable Attorney-General of the Federation seems pleased.
“Men who sit in judgement over fellow human beings are representative of God on the earth and everyone shall face the almighty God, on the last day, to give account of his stewardship. On that day all secrets shall be laid bare.
“The Bar association has by reason of personal leadership ambition rendered ineffective, divided and week. It is unable to speak boldly to secure the independence of the Judiciary. Elders of the Bar and men of good will should rise from their deep sleep.
“People, who must sit in judgment over others, must be men and women of character, learning and maturity. The mental status and background of such judges must be certified approved.
“The zeal and strong determination of our leaders to fight endemic corruption in our country must be commended and supported. l share the view that corruption is evil, destructive, stunt societal and human growth and diminish the core value of the people.
“The Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal is one of the most effective and strategic institution capable of reducing corruption and abuse of office, in the rank and file of public service. There is urgent need for reform of the institutions.
“Corruption cannot be fought successfully with corrupt institutions and corrupt procedure. It is injustice to inflict corrupt procedure on innocent public officers. God will not allow corruption to consume our nation. The end should not justify the means but the means should justify the end.
“The practice of propaganda lies and media trial will encourage injustice. Truth will exalt our nation, but propaganda and lies will enthrone injustice. Lies and injustice is a reproach. Let justice be done even if heaven will fall and let the rule of law be the only means to justify the end”, Awomolo added.