There was no indication Sunday that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen was ruffled by the allegation of false asset declaration levelled against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau.
And he did not also betray any jitters about the publicised trial scheduled for Monday at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Onnoghen, along with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, was at the Inter-Denominational Church Service for Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebrations in Abuja on Sunday.
The embattled chief justice, who came with his wife, Nkoyo, was photographed exchanging pleasantries with Osinbajo.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, all attended the event.
So far the Federal Government and the Justice Ministry have not reacted to the reports. A report that the Federal Government has asked him to resign has not been confirmed anywhere. It remains in the realm of speculation.
In the meantime, senior lawyers have advised the government or rather the Code of Conduct Bureau, to forget the idea of docking the nation’s chief justice.
Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), in a statement of Sunday described the proposed trial of CJN Walter Onnoghen, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal over alleged failure to fully declare his assets as “denigration of the country’s Judiciary and Constitution.”
“For the sake of our democracy, this is a misconception that must not be allowed to fester.
“No country, no matter how well intentioned its political leaders are, can aspire to greatness if its judicial arm is denigrated and held in contempt.
Human Rights lawyer Femi Falana, described the move against Justice Onnoghen as a “prosecutorial misadventure.”
“The charge against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen ought not to have been instituted at the Code of Conduct of Tribunal in view of the case of Nganjiwa v FRN (2017) LPELR 43391 wherein the Court of Appeal held that a judicial officer who has not been investigated by the National Judicial Council and sanctioned for misconduct cannot be arraigned in any criminal court in Nigeria”, he said.
Boss Mustapha, Dogara, Osinbajo, Onnoghen and Nkoyo Onnoghen during the church service
Justice W. S. Nkanu Onnoghen was decorated with the nation’s second highest honour of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) the same day he was sworn in as the 16th Chief Justice of Nigeria.
He was first appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria on 8 June, 2005.
He became Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) on the 10 of November, 2016. On the 7th day of March, 2017, he was sworn in as the 16th Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Onnoghen was born on the 22nd December, 1950 at Okurike Town, Biase Local Government Area of Cross River State.
He attended the Presbyterian Primary School, Okurike Town between 1959 and 1965. He later went to Accra, Ghana to attend Odorgorno Secondary School, Adabraka, Ghana between 1967 and 1972 for his West African Examination Council (WAEC) Examination.
He was at Accra Academy, Ghana between 1972 and 1974 for his WAEC (A-Levels) before proceeding to the University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana between 1974 and 1977 to obtain his Bachelor of Law Degree (LL.B (Hons)) and graduated with 2nd Class Upper Division.
He attended the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos between 1977 and 1978 for his bar certificate.
After law school, he served as Pupil State Counsel, Ministry of Justice, Ikeja, Lagos State.
He thereafter after a year became a partner in the Law Firm of Effiom Ekong & Company, Calabar (1979 – 1988), after which he founded his own legal firm, Walter Onnoghen & Associates, Calabar (1988 – 1989).
He was appointed into the Cross River bench in 1989 and served in various judicial capacities, until he was appointed a justice of the Court of Appeal in 1998, from where he was promoted to the Supreme Court in 2005.