‘Onnoghen doesn’t have immunity from arrest’
by Joseph Jibueze
A lawyer and multilateral diplomat, Dr Babafemi Badejo, Wednesday backed the order by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) that Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen should be arrested.
He said the 1999 Constitution does not give the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) immunity from arrest and prosecution.
Badejo, a consultant to the African Union (AU) and a former University of Lagos (UNILAG) don, said the CCT was not bound to wait on the National Judicial Council (NJC).
He said: “In spite of the crafty arguments of some SANs, the Nigerian Constitution is very clear.
“Only the President, Vice-President, Governors and Deputy Governors have immunity while in office except they are first impeached and removed from office.
“In effect, all other Nigerians, including the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria are subject to law. That is the rule of law.
“So, it is a surprise and a shock that legal leaders who should give leadership are bent on using all subterfuge to further weaken the rule of law in Nigeria.
“Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen is not above the law. He knew very well that the normal procedure was for an arrest warrant to be issued against him when he refused to show up at the CCT.
“The argument that a process was on at the NJC is irrelevant to the process that began at the CCT that was appealed against but the Court of appeal decided that the process should continue.
“A challenge to the jurisdiction of the CCT can never have the status of setting aside the need for the suspended Chief Justice to show up at the CCT and have the proper motions argue for the CCT Judge to decide whether he has jurisdiction or not.
“To stay away as the suspended Chief Justice did is an unruly challenge to our laws as they stand today.
“It is unnecessary to repeat that Justice Walter Onnoghen wants to drag the Judiciary totally in the mud in which he has enmeshed himself. That should not be allowed.
“He should be brought before the CCT as he would have rightly ruled. The process at the NJC should continue at its own pace.”
Badejo, a former high ranking United Nations (UN) official, said if Chief Justice Onnoghen does not believe the CCT should continue with the case, he and his lawyers should canvass it before the CCT.
“He cannot take the law into his own hands. We have no Queen or King in Nigeria. The CJN is subject to law.
“Finally, we should all salute the Ebun Sofunde led 20 SANs who have stepped forward to say what is truthful and promise to push for needed reforms of our judicial system.
“Their names will be written in gold when dispassionate efforts are undertaken on the Onnoghen saga.
“We cannot hope for a sustainable country if our Judiciary remains as corrupt as we all know it is but continue to play the ostrich,” Badejo said.
Source: The Nation