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Onnoghen Vs FG: Dr. Joe Abah Reacts

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I am greatly saddened that the Chief Justice of Nigeria is even in a position where he could be charged with the breach of any Nigerian law whatsoever. Looking at the issues both from the side of the Prosecutor & that of the Defence, it is difficult to find any positives.

Within three months of appointment, every public officer must declare their assets. This includes ALL bank accounts in your name. It is prudent to wrack your brain to remember ALL your accounts, even those that you may have that may now be dormant for a while or no longer funded.

For the avoidance of doubt, it is not a crime for a public officer to have money. The crime is not declaring it. Also, it is not a crime to have domiciliary accounts in Nigeria. What is a crime is not declaring it. Public servants are forbidden from having accounts overseas

As the case unfolds, the presumption of innocence must be protected. He is presumed innocent until convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction. Many have pointed to the NGANJIWA case that says that a serving judicial officer must first be tried by the NJC before the courts.

Personally, I do not agree that the NGANJIWA judgment is a true reflection of the law or of its intentions. I saying a judicial officer can only be prosecuted after being sacked has the effect of conferring immunity on judicial officers which is not envisaged by the Constitution

I am pleased that the EFCC is appealing that judgment. If it is allowed to stand, it be the judiciary granting special privileges to its members, just because they can. It would be no different from Legislators that currently pay themselves what they like, just because they can.

Having said that, the NGANJIWA judgment is the current position of the law, until it is overturned. Problem is that those that will overturn it are potential beneficiaries of it. Just like those with the power to reduce NASS allowances are...wait for it...NASS members

That Nigeria is in a position where its Chief Justice is being arraigned for a crime is sad. Some say that it demonstrates that no one is above the law. Question is whether or not this has been done with the same consistency where other high-ranking officials have been concerned.

While a State is perfectly within its rights to decide who to charge for what crime and which crimes to take seriously and which ones to ignore, inconsistency often creates distrust, no matter how noble the intentions. Distrust is more pronounced during charged electoral periods.

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