More than one week after suspending the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Nkanu Onnoghen, and replacing him with his immediate junior, the Presidency seems to be in a dilemma on how to resolve the logjam arising from the development.
The Presidency, it was learnt, is also alarmed by the opposition voiced against the suspension of the beleagued CJN only weeks to the 2019 elections in which President Muhammadu Buhari is seeking re-election.
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The fear of the Presidency is that the uproar could instigate a section of the country against him and deny him votes on election date, February 16.
But in a bid to find a way out of the quagmire, a 12-man team from the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, reportedly met with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, last Monday, to proffer solution to the problem.
Although members of the NBA delegation remained unnamed as of the time of going to the press last night, it was gathered that they presented a six-point demand to the Presidency as a means of resolving the crisis over Onnoghen and move the judiciary forward.
A source close to the meeting between the NBA and the Vice President described the demands tabled as a win-win scenario but did not say if it was accepted or rejected by the Presidency.
But a Presidency source, who spoke with Sunday Vanguard, neither denied nor confirmed the meeting between the VP and the NBA representatives.
The six-point demand, according to a source, are as follows: The CJN to resign or retire without coercion; govt to withdraw all charges against Onnoghen; no molestation of the CJN under any guise;
Acting CJN should quit; NBA team to prevail on relatives, friends to persuade Onnoghen to resign; and consensus on the need to clean up the judiciary (long term measure).
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Meanwhile, Muslim group, Muslims Rights Concern, MURIC, headed by Prof. Ishaq Akintola, has rejected the idea of pleading with Onnoghen to resign instead of prosecuting him for allegedly using his position to amass wealth.
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MURIC, in a statement made available to Sunday Vanguard, last night, also opposed the alleged demand by the NBA that the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mohammed Tanko, should quit, saying that he had not committed any offence to warrant resignation.
MURIC said that whereas the idea of meeting with the Presidency to proffer solution to the crisis was necessary, it rejected in its entirety its recommendations apart from the sixth demand which deals with the urgent need to clean up the judiciary.
“We appeal to the NBA to call a spade a spade. The body of lawyers should avoid spite and the pull-them-down syndrome. NBA appears to be cutting its nose in order to spite its face. This seems to be what the association is doing by trying to extenuate the offence committed by Justice Onnoghen while demonising Justice Tanko. Is the NBA not biased? Isn’t Justice Tanko also a member of the legal body?
“How should we judge an association that treats one member as a sacred cow and pushes another onto the rail line when a train is approaching at full speed? It is the most odious and insidious segregation. NBA needs to reassess itself,” MURIC said.