Lawyers Divided Over CJN’s Suspension

The Integrity Nigerian Lawyers Association have expressed dissatisfaction over the ridicule of legal profession in Nigeria in public domain following the suspension of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen and his open admission to the allegations level against him.

The association emphasized that the judiciary is the pendulum that holds every society together under the roof of justice, therefore, the promotion of the sanctity in democracy and day to day dealings should not be marred by corruption. It further stated that “Unfortunately, while having grave allegations hanging on his neck, my Lord, the Honorable Chief Justice through the instrumentality of lawyers kept running in search of restraining orders an act which various decisions of the Supreme Court have pronounced as ‘reprehensible’; a disheartening fox method, which created an unfortunate situation where it appears he is running away from justice.  More troubling is the fact that before and after the order of suspension of Justice Onoghen by the Code of Conduct Tribunal all the over-reactions of lawyers on both sides were based on technicalities and nobody was bold enough to ask the CJN to submit himself to the test of Justice that he heads and administer.”

The association, however, frowns on the Nigeria Bar Association stance on support for Justice Onnoghen despite openly admitting the allegations against him. We, however, view this as an attempt to shelve one single person from facing the law. “Therefore, we wish to make it categorically clear that NBA’s position is not a reflection of the collective opinion of its members. In view of this, therefore, we state as follows:

  1. The leadership of NBA should retrace its step and ensure it takes decisions that agree with the collective thoughts and opinions of its members.
  2. The decision to boycott courts in the present situation is not in line with procedures known to the law in resolving the present confusion.
  3. NBA’s position is simply a reflection of the personal interest of a few people and it is undemocratic and portrays our noble NBA as shielding suspects from justice.
  4. The action of NBA on this matter is a clog in the wheel of justice and must be reviewed.
  5. NBA’s position has exposed Lawyers to ridicule which is dangerous for all of us as lawyers. “

They called on Nigeria Bar Association leadership to reconsider its position on this matter particularly its directive to lawyers to boycott courts.

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