A former Benue State Chief Justice Adun Ter Alex has described the petitioners of Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), as “stupid”.
Alex, who made this comment on “Democracy Today“, a live political programme on African Independent Television which was monitored by Naija News on Saturday, said the petitioners of the CJN lack good knowledge of the country’s constitution.
This online news platform learned that the government will on Monday, January 14, 2019, arraign Justice Onnoghen before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital on charges of failures to declare his assets as required by law and for operating Bank Domiciliary Foreign Currency Accounts.
The development came after a group identified as Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative filed a petition against the CJN for the none declaration of assets.
The group further accused Justice Onnoghen of failing to declare ownership of some illegal accounts outside the shores of Nigeria.
Reacting, Alex said: “I was amazed when the news broke out yesterday and it became quite public today. The petitioners are completely incompetent. The CJN is not answerable to the Code of Conduct Tribunal at the first instance. What our constitution provides for under section 153 and 158, is that for judicial officers, for issues of misconduct, declaration of asset and maintenance of domiciliary account are the misconducts of which the NJC is the only constitutional body that is charged with the responsibility to investigate, send to the President for the application of disciplinary measures.
“You cannot first without petitioning the NJC to investigate any allegation against any judiciary officer including the Chief Justice of Nigeria who is the Chairman of the NJC. Some people argue that how can you petition a man who is the chairman of the NJC. If you petition the NJAC and the petition is against the chairman who is the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the chairman will recuse himself and the next in command who is the vice chairman of the NJC will preside. By default, the position taken by the court of Appeal in the case of Justice Nganjiwa vs the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2017 and when the whole advice from the attorney general that the petition of the chief justice of Nigeria will bypass the NJC and move straight to the Code of Conduct Tribunal when the NJC and the chairman of the NJC are the ones to discipline the tribunal.
“Now look at the charges that are filed against the chief justice of Nigeria. You said he has not declared his assets okay fine I agree with that but when you now talk about domiciliary account.
“The constitution does not prohibit or proscribe the maintenance of the ownership of a domiciliary account. It’s not a foreign account.
“The provision must be made. The petitioners are simply not reading the constitution but stupid and selfish incline people,” he added.