The legal logic in the suspension of the CJN and Political Chess within

January 28, 2019 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS

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Ebi Robert



Since the issue of the trial of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Walter Onnoghen, was brought before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, I have been attacked by commenters because of my own approach to the whole issue.


I remember raising the issue of the concurrency of jurisdiction between the High Court and the CCT, as per the question of the supervisory role of the High Court over the Tribunal.


Arguing on the matter, I asked whether or not both courts are equal, or one is inferior to the other, owing to to fact that appeals from both courts move as of right to the Court of Appeal, and both courts are established by the 1999 Constitution as amended.


When that article was published, I received attacks and something that looked like an indirect rebuttal was published the next morning. I was quite mindful that members of the legal community were fighting to keep their reputation intact as the issue looked more like a slap to the Bar and the Bench.


But whatever the reason may be, I was clear that this whole thing was like the game of chess, and classified it as such. The Government is playing their moves, while the Defendant is doing the same too, directly and indirectly.


You see, it was suspected that the plot was to remove the CJN and bring Tanko in. The belief was that the opposition party may not find favour in the eyes of the CJN. Now, whether that is true or not is another issue entirely. But if at all true, then the Government has to look for a way to take him out of the way, and since constitutionally, only a two-third majority of the Senate can do that, they had to look at his record to see whether there is anything to use for the strike.


Uffortunately, for My Lord, some of his assets were not declared as affirmed by him. The Government never wanted to make it look so clear as if it was their fight, so the petition was forwarded to the CCT by an Incorporated Trustees whose CEO was an Ex-Presidential Aide. To make everything smooth as planned, the process was given a fast track procedure.


The Defence became aware and challenged the Tribunal’s Jurisdiction to hear the matter. The legal community then went a step further to get an Order from the supposed superior Courts of Record to restrain the Chairman of the CCT from hearing the trial. The Order came from the Federal High Court and the National Industrial Court: This was another move.


But the Chairman of the CCT ignored the Orders, claiming that those who got same are busy-bodies. He went further to state that the CCT is not inferior to the High Court.


Being that this move seems not to be making headway, the Defence approached the Court of Appeal which is the Penultimate Court. To them, ”at least we are sure this one is SUPERIOR.”


However, unknown to the Defence, the Government has made another move: an Ex-parte motion was before the CCT. Funny enough, it was dated the 9th day of January, 2019. Ex-parte motions as we all know are not served on the other party. In that Motion, the Government has asked for a SUSPENSION of the CJN.


Now, that is where the argument begins. It is another move. When the Ex-Parte order was taken is another issue entirely. Whether such interim orders can be granted in the face of the Order of the Court of Appeal is another matter entirely as well.


I got to understand that the Government is playing a game. They are aware that the Constitution says that the CJN can only be removed by a 2/3 majority of the Senate, but the constitution said nothing about SUSPENSION. This would mean that he has not been removed, but simply suspended, which means that he can be reinstated if he is not found guilty.


Now you see the game? This same move was taken by the Jonathan administration on the suspension of the then CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.


I am not saying that the procedure for the removal of the CJN is the same with the CBN Governor, I am only saying that the same logic of REMOVAL has not been the same with suspension playing out.


Prof. Sagay in his usual manner has said that the address to be received by the Senate is not to come from them, hence, the move is constitutional. But whether he is right or wrong, I am certain that this whole thing was POLITICAL CHESS and I wonder who will win.





Ebi Robert

Ebi Robert is from Nembe/Egweama in Bayelsa State of Nigeria; a state in the Southern part of Nigeria. He is a legal practitioner, poet, essayist, freelance writer, novelist and editor. He is the author of the African Drama “An Empty Kingdom” published by ‘Patridge Africa’ and ‘Bulkibon Books’. He has written many poems and contributed to many International Books as well. The award winning writer propounded ‘Advisory Oposicion’, a concept which article was also published in the Tuck Magazine. Ebi Robert is an International Advisor with International Authors, USA. He is also the Secretary of the Association of Nigerian Authors, Bayelsa State chapter and as the well the founder of THE DELTA LITERATURE. He is also the Acting Director of Peace December, Bayelsa State Chapter, a Non Governmental Organization based in the US.

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