The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, Prof Itse Sagay (SAN), has defended the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, who is facing charges for alleged fraudulent assets declaration.
The Federal Government announced the suspension of the Chief Justice on Friday, stating that the action followed an order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal dated January 23, 2019.
It added that the suspension would stand till the conclusion of his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, swore in Justice Ibrahim Tanko from Bauchi State as the acting Chief Justice.
Speak on the constitutionality of the suspension, Sagay in a telephone interview said Buhari was legally empowered to suspend Onnoghen.
He said, “It is constitutional. If you look at Section 292 of the constitution, paragraph one clearly makes provision for that where the Chief Justice is guilty of a code of conduct.
“The provision is very clear. It states that where the Chief Justice is guilty of a breach of the code of conduct, he can be removed by an address of two-thirds majority of the Senate. It is quite clear that the Senate itself cannot initiate that address; there is only one person who can do that and that is the President.”
Section 292 (1) of the constitution reads in part, “A judicial officer shall not be removed from his office or appointment before his age of retirement except in the following circumstances –
“In the case of Chief Justice of Nigeria, President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Grand Kadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and President, Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, by the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate.”