Two issues arise here. One,is whether the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen accepted that he failed to declare his assets with the Code of Conduct.
The second issue is whether the Federal Government through the office of the Attorney General of the federation has the constitutional right to prosecute a judicial officer such as the Chief Justice of the Federation.
I am of the simple opinion that whilst the CJN has not put up any defence in public, I am unable to rule on that, and it does not really make any difference because of the combined effect of the constitutional and Court of Appeal decisions in Justice Ngwota and Ngajiwa.
Consequently, on whether the Federal Government through the Attorney General of the Federation can bring criminal charges on the CJN, I posit that based on the above decided cases of the Court of Appeal, it is an ILLEGAL exercise in FUTILITY. The NJC is constitutionally saddled with the responsibility of discipline of judicial officers. It is after the NJC process that the FGN can follow up with criminal trial where necessary.
On the directives and or decision of the South South governors to the effect that the CJN should not appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, it is my opinion that two wrongs don’t make a right. The rule of law applies to the high and mighty and the CJN in my opinion should appear and state his defence. This will set a wonderful precedent as the Highest Judicial Officer in the Country so that at the end it shall end in Praise.
Chief Barr.Willie Amadi
(UKWA ACHIAKA Owerri)