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Suspension Of Chief Justice Of Nigeria - Peter O. Sagay

Two days ago, Adegiga's Why President Buhari Will Be Re-elected was featured here at tectechnics.com. Since then, I have received several negative emails. Most of the assertions in the emails are unworthy of our response. However, the assertion by some learned lawyers that Adegiga is unintelligent and ignorant on matters of the law and the Nigerian consitution is worthy of response. This insult is based on Adegiga's position on the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria by the President of Nigeria. Adegiga is a brilliant thinker and we appreciate his contributions to tectechnics.com.

The constitutional authority by which the President of Nigeria can suspend the Chief Justice of Nigeria is stated in The Amended 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, Chapter 7 section 231 (4) and (5):

(4) If the office of Chief Justice of Nigeria is vacant or if the person holding the office is for any reason unable to perform the functions of the office, then until a person has been appointed to and has assumed the functions of that office, or until the person holding has resumed those functions, the President shall appoint the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court to perform those functions.

(5) Except on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, an appointment pursuant to the provisions of subsection (4) of this section shall cease to have effect after the expiration of three months from the date of such appointment, and the President shall not re-appointment a person whose appointment has lapsed.

The key phrase in chapter 7:Section 231(4) is for any reason unable to perform the functions of the office. The Chief Justice's breach of the code of conduct with respect to undeclared assets is the any reason. He needs to resolve that issue before returning to the bench.

Many learned lawyers have been shouting foul without reviewing the constitution in which they claim expertise. Several foreign countries have jump on that wagon proclaiming the subversion of democracy, rule of law and the imminent rigging of elections. The basis of their noise is chapter 7 section 292 (1ai) of the Nigerian Constitution:

(1) A judicial officer shall not be removed from his office or appointment before his age of retirement except in the following circumstances - (a) in the case of - (i) Chief Justice of Nigeria, President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, the President of the National Industrial Court, Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Grand Kadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and President, Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, by the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate.

The president need not consult the senate in order to suspend the Chief Justice for three months. He only need to establish plausible any reason for which the Chief Justice cannot perform the functions of his office. He has done that.

Those who purport to be experts of the law and have gathered to fight a baseless injustice fight should desist from heating up the polity. So too should the nations who have not reviewed the constitution and have blindly taken the side of ignorance of the law.

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