Itse Sagay, Chairman of the presidential advisory committee against corruption (PACAC), has faulted arguments by some legal practitioners that Justice Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, should first be investigated by the National Judicial Council before any other body.
Sagay, a professor of law, issued a statement on Wednesday in reaction to comments that arose as a result of the trial of the CJN before the Code of Conduct Tribunal over a six-count charge of non-declaration of assets.
Some eminent lawyers including Femi Falana, Afe Babalola, Mike Ozekhome, as well as the Nigerian Bar Association, the association of professional lawyers in the country, have expressed their disapproval over the trial of the country’s top jurist.
But according to Sagay, those arguing that Justice Onnoghen be investigated by the NJC are economical with the truth as even a baby knows that justice will not prevail knowing that the accused is the head of the judicial council.
The legal luminary noted that the case could not go before the NJC because that would amount to the CJN being “the Chief Judge of his own case.”
“They can’t be serious. They must obviously be speaking tongue in cheek. Even a baby, three months old, must realise that no one can get justice against the CJN at the NJC,” the statement read.
“The CJN is not only the chairman of the NJC, he is also the appointor of 20 out of the NJC’s 23 members. The CJN is the NJC.
“Only a grossly ignorant man or an extremely mischievous one could seriously suggest that a matter involving the CJN should be brought before the NJC for adjudication.
“Therefore, the whole idea of taking the present case to the NJC is a nonstarter, for that would make the CJN the Chief Judge of his own case – a clear violation, not only of the Constitution, but also of a long-standing common law principle coming all the way from MAGNA CARTER in the year 1215,” the statement read.
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Sagay urged Nigerians to be more interested in whether Justice Onnoghen actually committed the infraction rather than being bothered about the technicalities of law.
The statement read: “Why is Nigeria such a Theatre of the Absurd?” he asked, adding: “Today, we are only talking about preliminary objections, interim injunctions, challenge of jurisdiction, wrong procedure, etc., etc. Nobody is talking about the substantive issue any longer.
“Did he do it? Did he not do it? [That is] the question we should all be asking.”