Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has reportedly met with a 12-man team of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) over the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, where a 6-point resolution was conceived.
The Nation reports that the NBA team met with Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa to seek a soft landing for Onnoghen.
The team was reportedly led by its national president Paul Usoro (SAN) and two former presidents.
A source at the NBA reportedly said the team was concerned about the manner in which the country’s legal system is being ridiculed.
The source said: “I am aware that 12 of our leaders met with the Vice President, who is a senior member of the bar, on how to find a lasting solution to the crisis in the Judiciary.
Some of them have briefed us that they went to the Villa to meet the VP.
“The meeting reviewed the issues which led to the suspension of Onnoghen, including the allegations against the CJN, the filing of charges at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, restraining orders by some courts and the ex parte order by the CCT.
“Our leaders restated the fact that they disagreed on the procedure adopted by the government in handling, Onnoghen matter.
They virtually repeated the case presented at the CCT since some of them are Onnoghen’s lawyers. But they said the National Judicial Council (NJC) ought to have handled the matter.
“They also faulted the government for a allegedly trying to desecrate the Judiciary since Onnoghen symbolises the highest authority in this arm of government.
“At the end of the day, they sought for soft landing for the CJN who has no immunity under the 1999 Constitution.
“They also explained that it was wrong for the acting CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, to have made himself available for inauguration when a ruling of the Court of Appeal was being awaited.”
The source said the vice president assured the team that President Muhammadu Buhari will never do anything to abuse the legal system but that it seems the minimum acceptance is the resignation of Onnoghen.
“The NBA however sought a dignified exit for Onnoghen through either resignation or retirement without trial.
They proposed that the Acting CJN should also proceed on retirement.”
It was reported that a six-point resolution was reached:
1. CJN to resign or retire without coercion;
2. Govt to withdraw all charges against Onnoghen;
3. No molestation of CJN under any guise;
4. Acting CJN should quit;
5. NBA team to prevail on relatives, friends to persuade Justice Onnoghen to resign; and
6. Consensus on the need to clean up the Judiciary (long term measure).
The source added: “To be sure that the parties will keep to the terms, it was agreed that as Onnoghen is quitting his job, the government will simultaneously withdraw the charges against the CJN”
Meanwhile, human rights activist and lawyer, Femi Falana, has accused the National Judicial Council (NJC) of turning Walter Onnoghen’s suspension into a circus show with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) acting as if the former chief justice is being unjustly crucified.
He added that the decision of the NBA to boycott courts is an unpopular one among many lawyers as most refused to obey the order.
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