Piqued by the trial of some Supreme Court Justices, Nigeria’s legal community led by rights activist, Malcolm Omirhobo, is set to file for stoppage of the suits.
Omirhobo who frowned at the public prosecution of the judicial officers contends that the trials are an orchestrated move by the executive arm of government to arm twist the judiciary into submission, without following due process.
Two justices of the Supreme Court, Justices Adeniyi Ademola, his wife and Sylvester Ngwuta are currently facing charges in court after their arrest by the Department of State Security (DSS).
Both men were amongst eight judges who had their homes raided by DSS on suspicion of corruption in the course of their duties.
However, Omirhobo and his team are bent on heading to court to challenge the legality and morality of the Federal government, as represented by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), to publicly try the members of the bench.
Is it proper, legal, lawful and constitutional for the AGF to prosecute a serving judicial officer without first having him dismissed and/or removed from office?
In an exclusive chat with Ripples Nigeria, Omirhobo stated that they are headed to court to determine, among other things, whether the AGF can prosecute a serving Judicial officer for ethical violation and/or Judicial misconduct without having first to refer the allegations and/or charges against such judicial officer to the National Judicial Commission (NJC).
He added that they would also want the court to determine whether it is proper, legal, lawful, and constitutional for the federal government, or its agents to cause to be published to the public and the whole world the investigation and prosecution of serving Judicial officers for allegations and/or charges for ethical violation and/or Judicial misconduct?
Others are, whether it is proper, legal, lawful, and constitutional for the federal government, or the AGF to cause to be published to the public and the whole world the investigation of eight serving Justices (the two affected Justices inclusive) over allegations and/or charges of ethical violation and/or Judicial misconduct and also to cause to be published to the public the prosecution of the two affected Justices?
Omirhobo also said that they are worried, and want to know whether it is proper, legal, lawful, and constitutional for the NJC to suspend a serving judicial officer without following due process of law, and if the council in suspending the affected two Justices complied with due process of law.
“Is it proper, legal, lawful and constitutional for the AGF to prosecute a serving judicial officer without first having him dismissed and/or removed from office?” he asked.
Based on these questions, the legal practitioner noted that they would also approach the court to declare that the prosecution of a serving Judicial officer for ethical violation and/or Judicial misconduct by the AGF in a court of law is incompetent, illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional, and that it is also improper, illegal, unlawful, and unconstitutional for a court of law to preside over the trial of a serving Judicial officer.
“We intend to beg the court to compel and/or direct the AGF and the trial judges, and the NJC to forthwith discontinue with the prosecution of the said two Justices and refer the cases to the NJC.
“I would also want the court to compel and /or direct the federal government and the AGF to formally bring the petitions against the affected two Justices or any other Judicial officer to the NJC for investigation, discipline and sanctioning of the affected Justices”, he averred.
According to him, “the prosecution of the affected two Justices without due process of law has implanted a climate of fear, uncertainty, insecurity and apprehension in the Judiciary.
“The intrusion in the privacy of the said Justices of the superior court of record their arrest, detention, suspension and prosecution without due process of law is an affront on the Nigerian Judiciary and erosion of their independence, and a violation of the principle of separation of powers and rule of law”.
Omirhobo alleged that unless the federal government and the AGF are restrained more Justices of the superior court “will be frivolously, gratuitously and maliciously attacked and arraigned in court for trial without due process of law and for no just course, and the independence of the Nigerian Judiciary will continue to be eroded by the executive arm of Government”.
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