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Police seal off Onnoghen’s office, eject administrative staff

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SERAP charges NJC to take over case
The police yesterday sealed off the office of the embattled Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, who was last Friday suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to sources at the Supreme Court, the police in a move that appeared to stop any possibility of Onnoghen to access the office, sealed the office and ejected all administrative staff as early as 7:00am.

“The police have sealed the office of the CJN. Officers and men of the force went to the administrative staff offices about 7am and ordered clerical and other staff who were already at their desks to leave, after which they locked up everywhere,” a source said.

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has fixed today for an emergency meeting to deliberate on the sudden suspension of Onnoghen and swearing-in of Justice Tanko Mohammed as the acting CJN by President Buhari.

But the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) in an open petition sent to the next-in-rank to the chairman of NJC, “to immediately take over from the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) the case of suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), with a view to setting up a committee to investigate the allegations of breach of constitutional asset declaration requirements against him.”

In the petition dated January 26, 2019 and signed by SERAP senior legal adviser, Bamisope Adeyanju, the organisation urged the NJC to “ask Justice Onnoghen to step down from his role as chief justice pending the outcome of your investigation into the allegations against him.

“The urgent intervention by the NJC would remove the allegations against Justice Onnoghen from the vicissitudes of political controversy, and a clear and present danger to the independence and authority of the judiciary.

“It would also help to reverse the country’s increasing movement towards anarchy or despotism. It is in times like this that the NJC must be most vigilant and alive to its constitutional duties, if it is not to permit a diminution of our treasured constitutional rights.

“Also, if following your investigation, the allegations against Justice Onnoghen is established, the NJC should refer the case to appropriate anti-corruption bodies for prosecution.

Similarly, Justice Mohammed should recuse himself from the process as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.”


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