Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai has urged the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen to step down to protect the institution he represents.
el-Rufai argued that in law, forgetting to fill the Assets Declaration Form cannot be an excuse.
The Governor stated this yesterday while featuring on Sunrise Programme of Channels TV, which was monitored by our correspondent.
He said “all the arguments being made that the allegations against the CJN should first go to the National Judicial Council (NJC) were wrong.”
“The admission that I did not declare my assets, that infraction alone, is enough for him to step down and protect the institution. All these court orders and lawyers are not helping the judiciary or the legal practice and are not helping Nigeria.”
He also said, “The man has admitted that “I did not declare my asset, I forgot”. If the matter was simply that the Code of Conduct Bureau has made an allegation and filed charges in the tribunal, I will presume innocence, but I have seen a written statement by the Chief Justice saying that “…yes I have these accounts, yes I did not declare them, but I forgot”. Forgetting is not a defence in law.
The governor said it was wrong to claim that the NJC ought to have looked into the allegations against the CJN before arraign him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
“The constitution is very clear, if the matter has to do with Code of Conduct of public officers, the only court, the only tribunal vested with the power to consider the violations of that code is the Code of Conduct Tribunal. It can try anyone, including the President.
“The NJC is supposed to take petitions on the professional misconduct of Judges; if a Judge kills or steals, it is not NJC, it is the regular court. You cannot say the NJC is a self-appointed court, a special court that will first have to clear judges before they go to regular court.”
El-Rufai faulted South-South governors for looking at the CJN issue through a tribal lens, saying “My colleagues – governors that ought to know better are issuing statements based on where the Chief Justice came from. That is wrong. That is sad.
“Leaders should advance the course of institutions and unite us. You cannot say that he is my kin, so he should be let go. This is the attitude in Nigeria that has the capacity to destroy the country.
“My concern is that Nigerian elites should have a consensus about the sanctity of institutions. We should all protect our institutions even when they seem to be against us.”