Chief Judge of Nigeria Justice Walter Onnoghen

Governors of states in Nigeria’s South-South region have advised the country’s Chief Justice, Justice Walter Onnoghen, not to appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

The governors, who condemned the planned arraignment of the CJN before the CCT, noted that the attempt to “assault” the nation’s judicial officer was a grave and dangerous escalation of the assault on institutions of the state.

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The governors made this known through a signed communique after an emergency meeting held at the Bayelsa State Governor’s Lodge, Abuja, on Sunday.

The meeting, called at the instance of the Governor of Bayelsa, Seriake Dickson, who is also Chairman of the South-South Governors’ Forum, was attended by the Governors of Cross River (Prof. Ben Ayade), Rivers (Nyesom Wike), Akwa Ibom (Udom Emmanuel), and Delta state (Ifeanyi Okowa).

The communique reads, “We note that under Section 158(1) of the 1999 Constitution, the National Judicial Council, has ample powers to deal exhaustively with matters pertaining to allegations of misconduct and discipline of Judicial officers.

“Specifically, the NJC has the powers and clear procedures for investigating allegations, and recommending appropriate sanctions or disciplinary measures against judicial officials as a matter of first instance before any further steps.

“The judicial pronouncements in the cases of FGN Vs Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court (January 9, 2018) and Justice Ngajinwa Vs FGN 2017 at the CCT have given validation to the express provisions of the constitution on this issue.

“We believe that the President, Muhammadu Buhari has a constitutional responsibility and huge moral obligation to defend our democracy.

“Therefore, we consider this step, which is directly aimed at humiliating the nation’s highest judicial officer and a prominent son of the region, as totally unacceptable as it is reflective of the South-South story of endless marginalization and intimidation.”