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‘NBA Liable For Justice Onnoghen’s Sack’

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The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe yesterday said the inaction of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) was largely responsible for the removal of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Samuel Walter Onnoghen.

The Senator, who stated this at one of the breakout section of the on -going 59th NBA Annual National Conference in Lagos, noted that the Association did not speak with one voice to checkmate the alleged unconstitutional moves that forced Onnoghen out of office.

Abaribe said that if the NBA came out to protest against the injustice as the body had done in the past,  Onnoghen would not have been removed without due process.

Speaking on the topic ‘Independence Beyond the Letters of the Law’ at the Rule of Law Section, Senator Abaribe said NBA, being an association of lawyers is powerful enough to successfully fight the course.

Abaribe said the Senate waited in vain for the NBA and the judiciary to act in order to save the situation, because the law did not allow the President to unilaterally remove the CJN without recourse to the Senate.

He said it was regrettable that the judiciary “deliberately sat on the judgment” on the propriety of Onnoghen’s trial at the CCT and waited till he left office before pronouncing that the trial was wrong in the first place.

He said, “The question we ask is, with apologise to Wole Soyinka , if the Bar association is a tiger , where is your ‘tigritude’?

“And the reason we ask this question is simple: we find the Bar association blowing muted trumpet when the judiciary is under pressure, the Senator concluded.

The session, which was moderated by a former President of the NBA, Olisa Agbakoba, also witnessed sharp debate on Onnoghen’s removal among lawyers as two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Femi Falana and Mike Ozekhome expressed different opinions on the issue.

Ozekhome in his contribution had berated lawyers for not pouring out on the streets and shutting down government to protest Onnoghen’s prosecution and conviction by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

According to him, this was what lawyers in Pakistan did when former President Pervez Musharaf “unlawfully” removed the country’s Chief Justice.

But Ozekhome received a sharp reply from Falana who reminded him that the Pakistani CJ was not unlawfully removed under a cloud of having unexplained wealth, just like Onnoghen.

Falana also questioned the commitment of Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) to human rights causes, like both men used to do “in the eighties”.

 

 

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