Onnoghen: Judges, Lawyers Abandon Courts in Cross River

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The courts in Cross River State have closed her doors in protest of the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Onnoghen.

DAILY POST, who visited various Magistrate courts, High Courts and other Courts along Moore Road, Mary Slessor Avenue in Calabar, Cross River State capital observed that lawyers were seen outside the court rooms.

Some of the Court rooms that have keys were locked while others that have no keys were without lawyers, magistrates and judges.

All the lawyers were seen outside the court rooms.

Speaking to our correspondent, a lawyer who gave his name as Barrister Eyo Umo, lamented President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to suspend the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen and appointment of acting CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammed.

He said, “The courts are not sitting today because we have Nigeria Bar Association meeting. This meeting was called in respond to the suspension of CJN and the swearing in of the acting CJN.

“We want to take a position which we have not taken. You may have been aware that the National Exco of NBA is meeting as we speak now, so we are waiting for that meeting so that we tailored our decision here in line with what the National Exco is doing.

We got a special permission for the courts not to sit today because of our meeting in Abuja, so there would be no court session in the state pending when final decision is taken.

Also speaking, Barrister Jeremiah Arong, regretted the action of President Buhari over the suspension of CJN, “As lawyers from Cross River State, we had a meeting on the suspension.

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“All the meaningful Nigerians are of the opinion that the decision is against the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. What we saw clearly showed that, President Buhari has suspended the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in a democratic setting of ours which is not the best.

“From all look of things, President Buhari is thinking that he is still a military administrator, this is not the same in a democratic setting because during military administration, the president could just wake up in the morning and say constitution of the Republic of Nigeria is suspended.

“Every other thing is suspended, everything is abrogated but in a democratic setting, it is not so, everything done must follow the constitution. For instance the removal of the CJN which is the crux of the matter did not follow due process of the constitution, the President just wake from sleep and took that decision, that has never been done.

“This is the first time in the history of Nigeria that Mr President just wake up from sleep and say that the CJN is suspended without following due process.

“The entire Nigeria is not taken it kindly, we are not happy for this development because this is a complete derogation from our constitutional provision, the constitution has made it very clear.

“If President wants to remove the CJN, let the National Judicial Council start the process, if the process is done, the next step is moving to the National Assembly, the next is for President to just sit down and say suspend them.

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“Assuming but not conceding that the CJN had committed offence that warrants him to be suspended, they must follow due process.

“In fact the most worrisome aspect of it now is that the judge of a court sat on an exparte order that Mr President is very happy to parade himself along the street and say that there is an order asking him to suspend the CJN, on what basis.

“Looking at that exparte order, the lawyer for applicant was not there, so who move the application. If the exparte order must be granted, there must be somebody who will invoke the jurisdiction of the court, who will move the court to grant that application but if you look at this one nobody appeared for the applicant who move the motion exparte and it was granted, so what was the basis for the granting of that application. Nigerians must rise up.”

He said the Judged of the CCT has a question to answer, “As a sitting Judge, he knows that the supreme court had warned severally, they should grant exparte order sparingly but not on issue like this,” he stated.



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