Onnoghen trial: Civil society organizations challenge FG

Onnoghen trial: Civil society organizations challenge FG
January 13 19:23 2019 Print This Article

More reaction has continued to trail the planned prosecution of the Chief Justice of the Federation, Walter Onnoghen before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on non-declaration of asset allegation as No fewer than 70 civil society organisations (CSOs), under the auspices of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, on Sunday, condemned the planned arraignment.

The Situation Room expressed fears that the timing of the charges is damaging to the credibility of the general elections.

The group made the position known in a statement signed by its Convener, Mr Clement Nwankwo, in Abuja.

“Without commenting on the merits or de-merits of the allegations, Situation Room is concerned that the timing of the charges, the national and international public perception, as well as optics, of charging a Chief Justice of the country to a tribunal four weeks to the 2019 Nigeria General election, would be very damaging to Nigeria as a country and certainly damaging to the credibility of the elections.

“Situation Room is not persuaded that there is a national emergency that compels the allegations against the Chief Justice being prosecuted at this time, especially as case law exists that states a judicial officer (which includes the Chief Justice of Nigeria) must first be reported to the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the matter investigated and dispensed with, before such a judicial officer can be charged),” it said.

The CSOs therefore called for the immediate withdrawal of the charges against Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen.

“Situation Room calls on the Chief Justice to resist any and all pressures seeking to compel his resignation at this time in the light of the charges being filed against him.

“Situation Room also calls on all government and state agencies to remain independent and steer clear of partisanship in the discharge of their responsibilities and duties to the public and the country,” it added.

The group said it is taking a watching brief on the proceedings at the CCB and will follow the proceedings closely.

“Situation Room also calls on all political parties, the candidates for elections and indeed agencies of government to understand that an election won on the basis of electoral abuse or wrongful use of state institutions or other abuses, can lead to widespread disputations that would question the legitimacy of any government emerging therefrom and could represent a pyrrhic victory,” it said.

The Situation Room is made up of CSOs working in support of credible and transparent elections in the country which includes such groups as Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Proactive Gender Initiative (PGI) and Enough is Enough Nigeria.

It also includes WANGONET, Partners for Electoral Reform, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), WREP, Nigeria Women Trust Fund, JDPC and Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA).

Others are Development Dynamics, Stakeholders Democracy Network, Human Rights Monitor, Election Monitor, Reclaim Naija, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, CITAD, Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE), RECHDI, WREP and several other CSOs.

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