The Senate Minority Leader, Enyinaya Abaribe, has lashed the Nigerian Bar Association for failing to save suspended former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen from the humiliation he suffered under the government of president Muhammadu Buhari.
Senator Abaribe on Tuesday said at the Rule of Law Symposium at the ongoing NBA Annual General Conference in Lagos that the Senate waited in vain for the NBA and the judiciary to act in order to redeem the situation because the law did not allow the President to unilaterally remove the CJN without recourse to the Senate.
The outspoken senator regretted that the judiciary deliberately sat on the judgment on the propriety of Onnoghen’s trial at the CCT and waited till he left office before pronouncing that the trial was wrong in the first place.
He said, “The question we ask is, with apologies to Wole Soyinka, if the Bar association is a tiger, where is your ‘tigritude’? And the reason we ask this question is simple, we find the Bar association blowing muted trumpet when the judiciary is under pressure.
“In the matter of Onnoghen, we waited for the Bar association, nothing happened; we waited for his fellow judges, nothing happened and everybody was looking at us. And what were we waiting for? The law is very clear that you can’t remove the Chief Justice without coming to the Senate. Yet, it happened and nothing was done.”
On why the Senate itself did not rise to the occasion Abaribe said, “The law does not give the Senate any right to go beyond the constitution and the constitution is very specific. The President will send to the Senate the name of the person that they want to remove and the Senate will debate on that and decide whether the person should be removed or not.
“I said it earlier, there was a subsisting litigation and some people sat on the judgment and waited until the CJN retired before they brought out the judgment and said that it was wrong for him to have been tried in the first place because the Saraki case was already with us and we were waiting for the court to make that pronouncement, it was not done. And so, nobody should blame the Senate.”