The minority leader of the Senate, Eyinnaya Abaribe, has accused the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the judiciary of contributing to the removal of Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
Leadership reports that Abaribe said this at one of the breakout sections of the ongoing 59th NBA annual national conference in Lagos.
Abaribe made the comment almost the same time two senior lawyers, Femi Falana and Mike Ozekhome, clashed over the roles played by the judiciary and the NBA during Onnoghen’s travails.
The senator argued that the NBA refused to speak in unity during Onnoghen’s trial and alleged moves to force him out of office.
He blamed the NBA for refusing to come out and protest against what he called an injustice saying this accounted partly for the plight suffered by Onnoghen.
He also said since the law did not permit President Muhammadu Buhari to unilaterally remove Onnoghen, the Senate waited endlessly for an action from the NBA and the judiciary.
He lamented that the judiciary waited till Onnoghen left office before claiming that the latter’s trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) was wrong.
“The question we ask is, with apology to Wole Soyinka, if the bar association is a tiger, where is your ‘tigritude’?
“And the reason we ask this question is simple: we find the bar association blowing muted trumpet when the judiciary is under pressure,” he noted.
Meanwhile, at a session moderated by Olisa Agbakoba, former president of the NBA, Falana and Ozekhome expressed different views over Onnoghen’s removal and the roles played by the judiciary.
Ozekhome slammed lawyers for refusing to protest at the period Onnoghen was being tried by the CCT just as he illustrated his argument with what happened in Pakistan when Pervez Musharaf, a former president in the country, allegedly removed the chief justice unlawfully.
In his reaction, Falana noted that the chief justice of Pakistan was not unlawfully removed for having unexplained wealth like Onnoghen.