A former attorney to several Heads of State in Nigeria, Robert Clarke (SAN), says that he supports the Federal Government’s probe of Justice Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
We report that the Code of Conduct Bureau filed charges bordering on non-declaration of assets against the CJN and he was expected to appear before the tribunal last week Monday but he did not.
The CJN had said he forgot to declare his asset in reaction to the charges of failures to declare his assets as required by law and for operating Bank Domiciliary Foreign Currency Accounts.
January 17, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital has restated its order restraining the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and some others from proceeding with the planned arraignment of Justice Onnoghen.
Speaking on the planned arraignment of the CJN during Politics Today, a political talk show on Channels Television, Clarke said there are two sides to the CJN trial; the legal and political side.
Clarke said one would not think that the Federal Government or the Attorney General of the Federation is naïve not to know the position of the law as of today, before arraigning Justice Onnoghen before the Tribunal, adding that, the position of the law is clear.
Speaking further, he said that he took to the Court of Appeal, the matter on the appropriate procedure to employ in trying a sitting judge, wherein a profound finding was made, adding that the part of the findings was that the Executive cannot take such a Judge from his chambers straight to the Tribunal without due process.
According to Clarke, where a judge is suspected to be guilty of any form of misconduct, the proper body to first hear the matter is the National Judicial Council. He also stressed that misconduct includes fallacious act, and that, it is after the NJC has de-robed the erring judge first before he can be taken to any court for trial.
On the propriety of the actions of the Federal Government, Clarke said though the Federal Government erred, there is a method in the erring and that is where the politics of the matter comes in.
His words: “The Federal Government erred: there is a method in the erring, and that is where the politics of the matter comes in. The political aspect of it is that they believe that this is the only way for us to know that there is something wrong in the Supreme Court.”
Clarke, therefore, asked how come the Chief Justice of Nigeria has so many accounts with such an amount of money in them.
The Senior Advocate further stressed that he agrees with the Federal Government and that what they can’t get from the Tribunal, they are now getting from public opinion.
“Where did he get all the money in his account? I have been practising law for over 50 years; I don’t think I have up to 10,000 US dollars in my foreign account. I agree with the Federal Government. What they can’t get from the Tribunal, they are now getting from public opinion,” he added.
Clarke also spoke on the suspected corruption in the Judiciary, saying that the politicians have been corrupting judges.
“Because of the Salami Saga, Supreme Court took up jurisdiction. This is the brain work of politicians. The Politicians have been corrupting judges,” he added.
Watch the video below…