The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) has risen to the defence of Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, stating that the embattled judge “acted rightly in not appearing before the CCT on the day so summoned”.
BOSAN said this in a draft communiqué sent to SaharaReporters on Saturday before it held a meeting in Lagos on Saturday.
The body expressed concern that the issue of wrong declaration of assets faced by the CJN has been politicised, hence preventing “an objective discussion of the relevant issues calling for determination”.
Onnoghen had been billed to be arraigned at the Code of Conduct Tribunal last week, but he failed to appear, claiming he was not served directly.
Onnoghen was charged on a six-count charge bordering on wrongful declaration of assets and possession of bank accounts in foreign currencies, which contravened the code of conduct for public office holders.
At the end of the meeting, BOSAN said it aligns with the position of Paul Usoro, President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
In a statement signed by Usoro, the NBA had condemned the planned arraignment of the Onnoghen, questioning the hurry of the government to arraign the CJN.
BOSAN’s post-meeting communiqué, signed by Professor Ben Nwabueze (SAN and Seyi Sowemimo (SAN), read: The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (“the Body") at its meeting heId at the Nigerian Law Schoool, Adeola Hopewell Street, Victoria Island. Lagos on Saturday 19th January 2019 considered issues of national importance and resolved as follows:-
"I. The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria deplores the situation that has arisen from the preferment of charges against the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and head of the Nigerian Judiciary before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CcT).
"2. The Body urges respect for the Constitution, the rule of law, separation of powers, due process and the proper administration of justice.
"3. In the prevailing circumstances, all parties are urged to consider the impact of their respective actions on the administration of justice in Nigeria and public confidence in our institutions.
"4. The Body recognises that the matter is sub judice (befoFe the CCT and other courts) and we refrain from commenting on the merits or otherwise of any of the cases.
"5. The Body considers that these issues must be resolved carefully and responsibly in the interest of the legal profession and the nation.
"6. The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria continues to endorse the core values of good governance, public integrity and sustenance of democracy in the spirit of the Constitution."