By Rotimi Fafowora
Nigerians were undoubtedly created during the Tower of Babel’s confusion. If not, nothing describes Nigerians interpretation over any issue of national importance to suit their whims and caprices.The suspension of the CJN has generated so much great furore that many comments have been adduced for and against by no less than our own legal emeritus. While most arguments centre around the propriety or otherwise of the President whether he has the constitutional power to carry out such act, every arguments revolves around S 292 (1)a (i) & b 1999 CFRN as amended which is totally irrelevant and inapplicable because it is silent about suspension not removal. Suffice to say in the case of Nganjiwa v FRN and all other legalese coined, the fact still remains that most often than not law is an ass depending on the interpretation.
However, this is not the first time in history that a Chief Justice will be asked to vacate office based on abuse of office. In 2007, the Chief Justice of Pakistan was suspended, although he was later recalled.The Chief Justice of Nepal in 2018 was suspended for faking his date of birth in order to stay in office past his mandatory retirement age. Most importantly, the allegations against our own CJN were mere allegations and all he needs to do is for him to prove his innocence. So based on the information at the disposal of the federal government, they threw caution to the wind though and acted swiftly.The government knew that should they try to go through constitutional means, they might not achieve their aims. As the Chairman of National Judicial Council (NJC), he had postponed the sitting of NJC indefinitely. Please who would summon the meeting? There were injunctions that emanated like the speed of Usain Bolt been reeled out from these courts restraining the Federal government from taking any further actions. Cases were filed in the morning, the same day it was assigned to a judge and also the same day rulings were delivered.The South South Governors met and ordered the man not to appear before any court, as if the CJN is the CJN of South South. Chief Edwin Clark a lawyer, came on air to threaten fire & brimstone. Now that the man has been suspended (not removed), let’s see the position they are going to take. Most of the lawyers coming on air proferring copiously different laws, most of them are already warming up because they know it is time for their bank account to shoot up.
By and large, the Senate that will be sitting on Tuesday may sit in futility. In the first place ,where will they get the two third to over turn the decision? If there are to be any swift political solution to this logjam, it was supposed to have come from the CJN’s immediate constituency. Imagine when they asked the most senior judge to take over in whatever capacity and he refused. It goes on to the next in rank and so on and so forth.The two hundred and fifty members of various Tribunals that were sworn in had refused to turn up in solidarity with the suspended (not removed) CJN.There would have been total lock down in the Judiciary.But what did we get instead, an acting CJN who inwardly has been his prayer to his Allah for a day like this to come. Sooner than later all the Supreme Court Justices that were not in attendance will pledge their unalloyed loyalty to him in no distant future, such is life.
On a final note, whoever that is going to lighten someone’s heavy load, must have first of all carry his own load to a reasonable degree. America that is making comments, what is the relationship of President Trump with the judiciary in the US? He was so miffed that he tagged them ‘Obama judges’. This case in my humble submission is Onnoghen’s case, let him find another solution instead of grandstanding and stonewalling. Like Yorubas will say, “whoever puts you into trouble, will not carry the burden with you when such occasions demand, and even if they follow you to a reasonable distance, they will deny you just like Peter denied Jesus.”
Rotimi Fafowora is a Student at the Nigerian Law School and he can be reached on email@example.com