Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “instruct the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN, to immediately withdraw the charges against the Chief Justice of Nigeria Walter Onnoghen and to send any allegations of breach of asset declaration provisions of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) to the National Judicial Council (NJC) for investigation.”
The organisation said, “Mr Malami should then request Justice Onnoghen as the Chairman of the NJC to recuse himself, so that the next most senior justice at the Supreme Court can preside over the process and set up a panel to investigate the allegations against Justice Onnoghen to ensure fairness and justice in the matter.”
In a statement by SERAP, senior legal adviser, Bamisope Adeyanju, the organisation said: “We believe that enforcing asset declaration
provisions would help to prevent corruption and abuse of office and ensure transparency of public officers including judges. But the government should follow due process of law, and allow the NJC to consider the allegations against Justice Onnoghen first before pushing for prosecution, should there be any relevant admissible evidence.
This would help to accord Justice Onoghen his entire rights through laid down process.” The statement read in part: “The moral guilt or the legal guilt of Justice Onnoghen should be left for the judicial process to decide, as he is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. For now, the fundamental question is whether he is afforded the due process of law, as he is constitutionally and legally entitled to.
This is our interest in this case, and this should be the interest of every lover of justice.”“It is the principle of due process of law which is at stake in this case, the soul and spirit of which will be endangered if Justice Onnoghen’s case continues to be heard before the Code of Conduct Tribunal. A denial of justice to one citizen is a denial of such to ll. Due process here requires that Justice Onnoghen be given an opportunity to have allegations against him heard by the NJC.”