An Islamic human rights organization, Muslim Rights Concern, has hailed the conviction of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.
The suspended CJN was pronounced guilty on Thursday by the Code of Conduct Tribunal headed by Danladi Umar.
Onnoghen was accused of making false assets declaration.
MURIC’s endorsement of the tribunal’s ruling came in a press statement signed by its Founder and Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola.
The statement said: “This conviction will serve as a lesson for other judges who are tempted to tow the same line with Onnoghen. There must be a clear distinction between the temple of justice and the stock exchange market while the homes of judges must not, at any point in time, be mistaken for the bureau de change.
“For the noble profession to maintain its dignity, judges must not envy business tycoons in their quest for the accumulation of wealth. The glory of a judge resides in his aloofness from merchandise, his noble carriage and his comportment with self-satisfaction.”
The group blamed the suspended CJN for grandstanding when he could have made the best of the time by resigning when the Presidency asked him to do so more than three months ago.
It said: “As for the letter of resignation submitted by Onnoghen about two weeks ago, had it been early had been relevant, but it had been delayed and trivialized until the NJC’s indictment. It is our contention that this expensive procrastination has ‘stolen’ time from the purported resignation and rendered it an exercise in futility.
“Just as the presidency was constrained to suspend Walter Onnoghen after the tribunal issued an order three months ago, the hands of the presidency are now tied by the pronouncement of guilt by the same tribunal. President Muhammadu Buhari is not known to interfere in the functions of other arms of government. He has demonstrated this trait several times and the Onnoghen affair must not be different. Consistency also demands that he is bound to obey the terms of the conviction in the same manner that he obeyed the tribunal’s first ruling on suspension.
“President Muhammadu Buhari may not want to tamper with the CCT ruling that Onnoghen must be removed from office, forfeit funds found in the five accounts and banned from holding public office for the next ten years.
“MURIC lauds the chairman of the CCT, Danladi Umar, for his uncommon courage and consistency. In the same vein, President Muhammadu Buhari deserves accolades for his doggedness in the war against corruption. He will go down in history as the first Nigerian president to dock a chief justice of the federation.”
The human rights group also called on President Buhari to immediately swear in the Acting CJN, Muhammad Tanko.
The statement said: “In view of the clean bill which the Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC) gave the Acting CJN coupled with today’s conviction of the suspended CJN by the CCT, MURIC hereby urges President Muhammadu Buhari to set the machinery in motion for the swearing in of the Acting CJN as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria with immediate effect. Nature hates vacuum.
“As a parting shot, we reiterate for the umpteenth time that the Federal Government must immediately institute a thorough reform of the nation’s judiciary. The war against corruption cannot succeed until Nigerians can beat their chests about the trustworthiness of their judges.”