“Politics and Prostitution have to be the only jobs where inexperience is considered a virtue”.
It is rather disheartening to see the volatile mixture of ignorance, compromise and vulnerability in the judicial system and amongst the top justice administrators in Nigeria. It is a shame on any lawyer to support against a system set up to deliver monologue on professional legal matters, in favor of a government promptly failing in its track to discharging its duties.
As the only arm of government comprising of Professionals, Without a single doubt, I say most lawyers fails to understand what the term ” Professionalism ” entails. It appears to most as getting ones way by cheating and manipulating. While It appears to some as as serving the dictates of greed and advantage rather than those of goodness and the desire to see justice prevail in this country.
With the most recent event hovering in and around the country on the controversial suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria by the President Mohammadu Buhari who according to him acted on the orders of the Code of Conduct Tribunal of Nigeria, has raised a lot of scepticism amongst top political, religious, and traditional rulers, the elite and the civil society as a whole as to wether or not the President has the constitutional right to suspend or sack the CJN based on a court order.
Having all said, the civil society has been left lost and vulnerable as to the true interpretation of the constitution, with various Lawyers in and around the country having diverse and contrary views as to the legality or otherwise of the Presidents actions to suspend the CJN.
For the sake of ethics and demand of professionalism, I shall without bias or sentiments buttress for public enlightenment about the issue at hand for a better understanding.
I am outrightly taking a stand based on my understanding of the Grundnorm of Nigeria 1999 as (amended) that by the provision of S. 292(I)(II), the President has no constitutional right to suspend or remove the CJN.
The doctrines of the “rule of law” S.1(1), Chapter 1, Part 1 CFRB which made clear that No body is above the Law… (1) Constitution is Supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on “ALL AUTHORITIES and PERSONS” throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1(1) stretches over ALL PROVISIONAL LAID DOWN LAWS IN THE CONSTITUTION” so covered includes further constitutional principles of division and separation of Powers between the 3 arms of government, the Executive, Legislative and the Judiciary Ss 4-7, FRN coined by Montesquieu as a way to eliminate and reduce the arbitrary powers of unchecked rulers further support my stand.
It is, however, fair to say the suspension of Chief Justice Onnonoghen, the CJN by President M.Buhari is a violation and breaches S.292(1,2), Chapter 7, Part 4 of the CFRN (amended)…The Chief Justice of Nigeria, PCA, CJFHC, CJHCFCT, GKSCAFCT, PCCAFCT, by the President acting on address supported by 2/3rd majority of the Senate.
In clear terms, a CJN can only be removed from office after at least two-third majority of the upper chamber supports such a move. In this case, no such issue was been debated upon by the Senate. So therefore, it is an aberration and a violation of the constitution for M. Buhari to jump jurisdiction and suspend the CJN.
“It is however a shame on the path of Lawyers most notably SANs who supported this action, quoting one section or the other from enacted laws in support of the Presidents action because the constitution remain supreme to such enacted laws as conferred on it by S.1(1) of the constitution” Indeed, not all lawyers who passed through the law school were really schooled in law. So.e were there to make up numbers while some were there to patronize the Mami market “
Let me take you back to the of Dr. Bukola Saraki Vs Justice Raliat Elelu-Rabeeb (2009).
Where the then Governor of Kwara state Dr. Bukola Saraki asked the state house of Assembly in an approved letter to sack the Chief judge of the state, alleging that the chief judge engaged in an act that contravened the constitution. Following her removal from office, Raliat dragged the Government of Kwara state to the Federal High court challenging the powers of the Kwara Government to initiate disciplinary action against her. The federal High Court after due judicial procedure granted judgement in favour of the Chief judge, ruling that the government lacks the jurisdiction to sack her from her position without the approval of the Nigerian Judicial Council but the government of Kwara in dissatisfaction to the judgement of the court, appealed to the Court of Appeal in Illorin.
The COA in its judgment ruled that the state Chief Executive could not remove a judicial officer without an inputs from the NJC, Nullifying and reinstating Judge Raliat Elelu back to her position.
This is no different from the case of Buhari and the CJN. A pending trial should be allowed to go through the due legal procedure before a disciplinary action is taken. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11 states; Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to the law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantee necessary for his defence.
I hereby call on the President M. Buhari to reverse this tyrannical action against the Judiciary and let the law take its course.
M.D Bamshak (Msc)
Int’l Lawyer & Public Policy Analyst