The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Cross River State (Calabar, Ogoja and Ikom) has shut down all high courts, magistrate courts and other courts in the state over the prosecution of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mr Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
The lawyers, who were protesting the trial, said they embarked on the suspension of all courts in the State on Monday in support of the other groups including South-South governors and other individuals who were against the trial.
The bar, in a communiqué issued on Monday after a emergency general meeting in Calabar, said, “The three branches of the NBA in the State have observed with dismay the ongoing unconstitutional attempt by the executive arm of the federal government of Nigeria to coerce, intimidate and desecrate the judicial Arm of the government vide the proposed arraignment of the CJN.”
In a seven-point communiqué signed by NBA chairmen of Calabar, Ogoja and Ikom branches, Emmanuel Idaka, Daniel Ofre Okulo and Ojong Agbor respectively, Ntufam Mba E. Ukweni (SAN), Elder E.O.E. Ekong, Nsikak Ikpeme, Marc Enahme, Hon Mark Obi, Leo Murphy, Williams Anwan, F. O. Onyebueke, Nkoyo Amah, Chief Orok Oyo, James Ofem and others condemned the scheduled trial.
The group said, “We wholly adopt the position of the NBA on the issue as contained in the statement issued and signed by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chief Paul Usoro SAN.
“We condemned in its entirety the unlawful manner in which the federal government and its agencies have assaulted, ridiculed and degraded the revered office of the CJN and indeed the entire judiciary in the country by the orchestrated media trial of the CJN Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen.
“Whilst not condoning corruption in all it ramifications, we insist that, the rule of law must be followed by the federal government of Nigeria in its avowed fight against corruption, especially as it has to do with the proposed arraignment of the CJN or any other judicial officer in the federal republic of Nigeria as laid down in the locus classicus of Nganjiuva vs. Federal Republic of Nigeria 2017.
“It is pertinent to draw the attention of the initiators of this bizarre transaction to the fact that the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria is regulated by the mandatory provisions of section 292(1)(a)(1) of the constitution, 1999.
“Democracy strives under the rule of law. The present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, having come to power under a constitutional democracy and not being a military dictatorship, must, in all its dealings with the citizens of Nigeria and other Arms of the government, abide by the rule of law,” the group stated.