Court refuses to grant order against FG over $418m Paris Club refund
• Judiciary must assert, liberate the self, says the body of senior advocates
• Faults Court of Appeal on Onnoghen’s saga
An Abuja Federal High Court, yesterday, refused to grant an injunctive order against the Federal Government over its bid to deduct $418 million from the allocations of the 36 state governments.
The governors, through their counsel, Sunday Ibrahim Ameh, had moved a Motion on Notice, praying the court to grant the order.
Their grouse was that they were not a party to a legal action, which resulted in a judgment that ordered the Federal Government to deduct the money to settle debt obligations to various contractors who assisted the states in the Paris Club refund project.
Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo fixed December 21 to hear all applications challenging the court’s jurisdiction along with the substantive matter.
THIS came as the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) again charged the judiciary to assert and liberate itself by protecting its independence.
Chief Chris Uche, who represented BOSAN Chairman, Adegboyega Awomolo, disclosed this in Abuja, yesterday while delivering an address at a valedictory court session in honour of the late Justice Adamu Abdu-Kafarati (rtd).
He noted with dismay systematic efforts by the ruling class to erode the independence of the judiciary through intimidation, coercion, arm-twisting, divide-and-rule tactics and outright harassment.
“We are all familiar with those well-known impediments to the independence, appointment and removal of judges, and disobedience of court orders. The judiciary must assert itself, and indeed liberate itself through the protection of its decisional independence,” he said.
Uche noted further: “There are factors one may refer to as external enemies and we may want to reflect on whether the judiciary itself, and indeed the legal profession, has in any way been complicit, either by action or inaction, in allowing external enemies to invade the sacred sanctuary.”
He condemned various arrests and prosecution of judges in Nigeria without subjecting them to extant rules drawn by the National Judicial Council (NJC) on discipline.
He also berated the Court of Appeal for refusing to rule on a suit on Walter Onnoghen, the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
On January 25, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Onnoghen from office on the strength of an ex-parte application obtained from the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar, granted the application on January 23 in a private session.
The Federal Government had accused Onnoghen of violating the Code of Conduct Bureau law on assets declaration by public officers.
“The judiciary became a victim of its silence. The Court of Appeal, we recall, refused to deliver its ruling in the matter for over three months,” Uche said.
He added: “A sitting Chief Justice of Nigeria was removed from office with a questionable ex-parte order by the chairman of the CCT, and all stood by.”
In his address, Chief Judge, Federal High Court, John Terhemba Tsoho, described the posthumous valedictory court session as “a sorrowful and solemn event, particularly because of the news of his untimely death”.
Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, described the late Kafarati’s life as one of service to humanity.