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Tuesday, 12 February 2019

UN Faults The Suspension, Replacement Of CJN Onnoghen, Says It Contravenes The Law

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The suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari was in contravention of human rights laws that's according to the United Nations (UN).

According to TheCable, the UN disclosed this through in a statement by its special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Diego Garcia-Sayán.
Garcia-Sayán pointed out that the suspension and replacement of “the Chief Justice of Nigeria by the country’s President is in contravention of international human rights standards on independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers”.
Part of the statement reads: “International human rights standards provide that judges may be dismissed only on serious grounds of misconduct or incompetence.
“Any decision to suspend or remove a judge from office should be fair and should be taken by an independent authority such as a judicial council or a court.
“The dismissal of judges without following procedures laid down by the law and without effective judicial protection being available to contest the dismissal is incompatible with the independence of the judiciary.
“The President of Nigeria said he had acted in compliance with an order issued two days earlier by a tribunal established under the Constitution to decide on alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct for Public Officials.
“However, four separate Nigerian courts – the Court of Appeal, the National Industrial Court and the two Federal High Courts – had already ordered a stay of proceedings in the Tribunal.
“Moreover, the said order upon which the suspension was based, was issued ex-parte while the motion on notice on the same subject was adjourned the day before by the issuing court.”
“All State institutions must abide by the decisions of national courts and tribunals. In the case of Chief Justice Onnoghen, four national courts hierarchically superior to the Code of Conduct Tribunal had already ordered a stay of proceedings, and the Tribunal had in a previous case, 8 months earlier, held that it lacked jurisdiction over cases involving judicial officers, which should be processed by the National Judicial Council.
“I am seriously concerned at such allegations, which may constitute if proven, grave attacks to the independence of the judiciary and the free exercise of the legal profession.
“One of the senior advocates defending the Chief Justice was arrested on Wednesday by security agencies. Lawyers play an essential role in securing access to justice, and should never suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or other sanctions for action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards, and ethics”.
President Muhammadu Buhari had suspended Onnoghen and immediately appointed Tanko Mohammed as acting CJN on January 25, 2019.
According to Buhari, he suspended Onnoghen following an order from the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.
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