Mon. Aug 12th, 2019

Justice Walter Onnoghen: Lawyers should not confuse us please

Lawyers of every shade have been trying so hard to confuse us with their legal gibberish since the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.

As someone succinctly painted, if you put three lawyers in a room, they can never agree on anything, except that they are learned and we are not.

What they will end up doing will be to leave us more confused.

Evans Williams, co-founder of Twitter also said:

“I thought once everyone could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better place.

“I was wrong about that.”

This is very true of Twitter and Facebook users in Nigeria as they try to outdo one another in information dissemination, sometimes fake and unsubstantiated.

Since the news of the suspension of Onnoghen broke, lawyers all over the country, especially on the social media, have been giving all sorts of interpretations to the unfolding saga.

Not really the interpretation of the situation, rather, they have been giving us the interpretations of their interests.

They back up their points with big grammar from both the constitution and acts, further reinforced with legal precedence and authority.


The Onnoghen Conundrum.

However, we the laymen are further confused.

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), in a reaction through its President, Paul Usoro, described the action as a ‘coup’ and ‘usurpation’ by the executive.

The statement reads:

“The Nigerian Bar Association unequivocally rejects and condemns this attempted coup against the Nigerian Judiciary and evident suspension of the Nigerian Constitution by the Executive arm of the Federal Government.

“The action of the Executive portends a slide into anarchy and complete deconstruction of the Rule of Law and due process.

“It amounts to an absolute breach of the Constitution and the usurpation of the powers of the Senate and the Nigerian Judicial Council.”

But the irony here is that Usoro himself is also facing criminal prosecution for alleged fraud of N1.4bn.


So how much credence can we give to this condemnation?

In the eyes of Prof. Itsay Sagay, the actions of the President is ‘perfectly legal’.

The irony is that Sagay once justified the appointment of former Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, deeming it ‘no big deal’ if she has no NYSC certificate.

He went further to say that the suspension of the CJN was constitutional.

“It is constitutional. If you look at Section 292 of the constitution, paragraph one clearly makes a provision for where the Chief Justice is guilty of a code of conduct.

“The provision is very clear. It states that where the Chief Justice is guilty of a breach of the code of conduct, he can be removed by an address of a two-thirds majority of the Senate.

“It is quite clear that the Senate itself cannot initiate that address; there is only one person who can do that and that is the President.”

What is more striking since the whole Onnoghen saga started is that it has become a political issue, but the lawyers have not help the situation.

After spending several minutes to read the statement from Sagay, more questions rather than answers have come to the fore.

One thing is definite though; we are at the mercy of our lawyers as they all try to twist and turn issues on their heads but in the end, they keep confusing us the more.

Who will save us from these learned juggernauts?

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