Monday, 14 January 2019

CJN: Don't Miss the Meat of the Matter —by First Baba Isa Esq


14 January 2019 

Has the CJN committed an offence? 

This question has not properly arisen. It cannot even arise now and before me. It's like doing a naming ceremony before you see a woman that you will impregnate. 

Even if someone commits a crime, there is a way to arrest him, there is a way to treat him when you arrest him, there is a way to treat him when he is in detention... If you break any of these procedures, you will muddy the waters of justice and even the accused can sue you. 

So, assuming the CJN has committed an offence, there are laid down procedures to follow in proving this. This laid down procedure has been kindly outlined by Ebun Onagurowa: 

"1. By section 36 (4) of the 1999 Constitution, a citizen who is charged with a criminal offense must be taken to the appropriate forum with the requisite jurisdiction to try the offense, be it a court of law, a tribunal or such other quasi judicial organ.

2. By section 153 (1) (i) & (2) of the 1999 Constitution, the National Judicial Council (NJC) was established for the Federation of Nigeria.

3. By Paragraph 20 (b) of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution, the NJC shall "exercise disciplinary control over" all judicial officers, including the CJN.

4. The NJC being a quasi judicial organ established by the Constitution, it is the appropriate forum to first raise any matter against any judicial officer, including the CJN. Thus, the NJC has exclusive jurisdiction over all judicial officers, including the CJN.

5. By the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Nganjiwa v Federal Republic of Nigeria, no criminal charge can be laid against a judicial officer, including the CJN, in any court of law, without first filing such complaint before the NJC.

6. The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) are both part and parcel of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and are bound by the decision of the Court of Appeal in NGANJIWA V FRN.

7. Under and by virtue of section 287 (2) of the 1999 Constitution, "the decisions of the Court of Appeal shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons and by courts with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the Court of Appeal.

8. The Code of Conduct Bureau and Code of Conduct Tribunal are both subordinate entities to the Court of Appeal and they are bound to enforce, apply and obey the decision of the Court of Appeal in Nganjiwa v FRN.

9. From the foregoing, the criminal charges filed against the CJN before the Code of Conduct Tribunal are illegal, ultra vires, unconstitutional, null and void and should either be withdrawn forthwith by the Code of Conduct Bureau, discontinued by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation by filing a nolle proseque or struck out by the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

10. Under and by virtue of section 36 (5) of the 1999 Constitution, "every person (including the CJN) who is charged with a criminal offense shall be presumed to be innocent until the contrary is proved".

11. The CJN cannot by virtue of these illegal charges alone, be asked to vacate his office. The Senate President and his Deputy both faced their criminal trials recently and they both participated in and presided over the affairs of the Senate.

12. Whereas no citizen is above the law to be arraigned or charged for any criminal offence, however, the CJN must be accorded his full constitutional rights as guaranteed by the Constitution."

The rush not to follow this laid down procedure is suspect. It smacks of a calculated plot to embarrass the CJN and intimidate the entire judiciary. That is the meat of the matter. 

- First Baba Isa (FBI)



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