Why Chief Justice Of Nigeria "Walter" Must Resign & Face His Trial

The chief justice of Nigeria "Walter Samuel" who assume office (in March 2017) barely less than two years is being tried for an alleged false asset declaration by the code of conduct Tribunal (CCT). This followed after a petition was submitted by Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative group alleging fraudulent assets declaration by Mr. Walter.

According to the federal government Justice Walter failed to declare a sequence of bank accounts stashed with a huge amount of local and foreign currencies, which are linked to him at a Standard Chartered Bank branch in Abuja.

Subsequently, the federal government filed 6 count fraudulent assets declaration charges against him. He was also ordered to vacate his seat as he cannot be a judge in his own case.

Responding to the petition Walter claimed to have forgotten to declare part of his assets following the expiration of his 2005-2009 declaration. In his words

“My asset declaration form numbers SCN 00014 and SCN 00005 were declared on the same day, 14/12/2016 because I forgot to make a declaration of my assets after the expiration of my 2005 declaration in 2009. Following my appointment as acting CJN in November 2016, the need to declare my assets anew made me to realize the mistake”

It is very clear and straightforward that the chief Judge has owned the allegation cited in the petition. However, he is shifting blame on the grounds that he forgets to declare part of his asset. But ignorance is not an excuse in the law.

In the heat of this, opposition party describe the charges as political and will have a negative impact in the 2019 election. Similarly, professionals in the field of law have described the federal government move as unconstitutional. Stating that before any judicial officer can be sued, the matter has to be submitted to NJC for internal investigation and disciplinary actions.

 

“By Paragraph 20 (b) of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution, the NJC shall `exercise disciplinary control’ over all judicial officers, including the CJN.”

 

Looking at this from another angle, the chief justice doubles as the chairman of Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC). So how can the government report the chief judge to himself?

Walter is the first Chief Justice of Nigeria that hails from South-South in the past thirty years. He has been advised by South-South governors to boycott the court sitting on the basis that due process and rule of law has been breached. Walter did not appear for the court session but instead, he sends high profiled lawyers to represent him.

In 2016 Operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) raid houses of top judges including Mr. Walter over an allegation of corruption.  To save the judiciary image which serves as the last hope of the common man, Walter ought to have honorably resign and face his trial.

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