As the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) bicker over the travails of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, has asked the Federal Government to withdraw the charges against Onnoghen as it is an action in futility.
Falana position is contained in a statement on Saturday. His words: ““The charge against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen ought not to have been instituted at the Code of Conduct of Tribunal in view of the case of Nganjiwa v FRN (2017) LPELR 43391 wherein the Court of Appeal held that a judicial officer who has not been investigated by the National Judicial Council and sanctioned for misconduct cannot be arraigned in any criminal court in Nigeria.
“As all authorities are bound by the Court of Appeal verdict, the case should be withdrawn by the Attorney-General of the Federation without any delay because it is likely to be a prosecutorial misadventure,” he said.
PDP accused the Buhari Presidency of plotting to destabilize and annex the Judiciary ahead of the 2019 general elections.
However, the defence offered Justice Walter Onnoghen, Chief Justice of the Federation, in the move to remove him has drawn the ire of the All Progressives Congress (APC) which says the move has again exposed the PDP as “one with a natural inclination to rise up in defence of cases of alleged corruption.”
The opposition party had alerted of allegations that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and cabal at the Buhari Presidency are hounding Onnoghen and seeking his removal so as to cause a constitutional crisis, instill fear in judicial officers and pave way for the foisting of a pliable CJN that will do their bidding on electoral matters.
“This is particularly following allegations that the APC seeks a new CJN that will aid its rigging schemes as well as execute the plot to use the court to detain and put opposition members and outspoken members of Civil Society Organizations out of circulation during the general elections,” PDP added in its statement by spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondinyan.
APC spokesman, Mallam Issa-Onilu, said the resort to baseless postulations anytime issues of corruption are leveled against public officers only confirm what Nigerians already know. PDP and corruption are siamese twins that are difficult to separate from each other.
He adds: “One would have thought that the PDP will call for impartial investigations when corruption cases are levelled against public officers, but spinning falsehoods and conspiracies remains the opposition party’s favourite past time.
“The fight against corruption remains a cardinal promise made by the APC to the electorate. We assure the PDP and indeed all Nigerians that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration remains uncompromising in its determination to rid the country of this malady.
“As noted on many occasions by President Buhari, it is only those who have committed crimes that need to worry. The APC administration will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute any public officer if and when such is indicted for corruption.
“Achieving acceptable elections in all democratic climes is a collective effort which require the contributions and support of all well-meaning Nigerians, political parties, institutions and sundry interests.
Commendably, in successive elections conducted under the APC administration, the Party has played by the rules, which has led to credible elections. This cannot be said of the PDP era when state institutions were deployed to manipulate the electoral process.
“The PDP’s baseless conspiracy theory on APC’s participation in the 2019 general elections should hereby be disregarded. We remain solidly committed to ensure that the forthcoming election go on record as one of the freest, most credible and peaceful elections in the country.”
Nonetheless, the PDP states that the moe against the CJN is a clear recipe for anarchy and a huge crisis that is capable of fracturing the justice system and derail democracy as it portends a prelude to a total clamp down on institutions of democracy and rule of law in our country.
“The PDP therefore urges all Nigerians, the United Nations and all international bodies to unite in the defence of our democracy, especially at this very critical time in our political development.
“Moreover, if President Buhari is committed to cleaning up the system as he claims, we challenge him to allow the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, whose tenure has expired and who had also been rejected by Nigerians due to his manifest partisanship, to go.
“President Buhari should also ask Amina Zakari to recuse herself from INEC following her rejection by Nigerians over issues of impropriety in her appointment as Chairperson of the Presidential election collation committee.
“Furthermore, we challenge Mr. President to also commence plans for the immediate prosecution of members of his campaign organization, including his co-Chairman, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the factional National Chairman of his APC, Adams Oshiomhole over allegations of corruption against them.
“Finally, the PDP counsels the APC to note that it has been rejected by Nigerians and as such should end all its actions and schemes that overheat the polity and place our nation on the precipice,” the party adds
The Federal Government had earlier asked Onnoghen to vacate his office over failure to declare his assets as required by the law and moved to arraign him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.