Former Chairman Nation Human Right Commission (NHRC) and social commentator Prof Chidi Odinkalu has used a parallel story in reacting to the Code of Conduct ruling that found Former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen guilty of fraud over his alleged non-declaration of assets.
The Code of Conduct Tribunal had on the 18th of April convicted the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen of breach of Code of Conduct for Public Officers.
He was also stripped by the Tribunal of all offices earlier occupied, such as the Chairman of the National Judicial Council and also the chairmanship of the Federal Judicial Service Commission.
Prof Odinkalu used the controversial story of the ousting of the Bangladesh first non-Muslim Chief Justice, Surendra Kumar Sinha in 2017 in reacting to the CCT ruling.
He posted his reaction on his official twitter handle in a series of tweets yesterday.
On an interesting day for #Nigeria's judiciary, it's useful to recall the experience of Bangladesh's 1st non-Muslim Chief Justice, Surendra Kumar Sinha. In July 2017, CJ Sinha presided in a case over the constitutionality of the 16th Amendment#WhenPoliticiansHuntJudges#Thread
— Chidi Odinkalu (@ChidiOdinkalu) April 18, 2019
He said “On an interesting day for #Nigeria’s judiciary, it’s useful to recall the experience of Bangladesh’s 1st non-Muslim Chief Justice, Surendra Kumar Sinha. In July 2017, CJ Sinha presided in a case over the constitutionality of the 16th Amendment”.
“The 16th Amendment was an effort by the ruling Awami League of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed to ransack Bangladesh’s judiciary, sacking judges at will under an artifice of protecting the integrity of the Bench from judicial incapacity or mis-conduct”.
“A 7-person Supreme Crt panel led by Chief Justice Sinha struck down the amendment in a 799-page judgment on 3 July 2017, holding that neither individual Judges nor the judiciary is nor shd be accountable to the Executive branch because that is inimical to judicial independence.”
“The Prime Minister of Bangladesh was persuaded to take the judgment as a personal affront from the Chief Justice. Swiftly, they announced that Chief Justice Sinha was ill. On 2 Oct 2017, Justices of the Supreme Crt who had sat with CJ Sinha, informed govt that he was ill.”
“On 3 Oct 2017, Bangladesh’s Law Minister, Anisul Huq, told the media that the CJ was going on a month’s leave as he had cancer. He later also showed to the media what he claimed was copy of the CJ’s “letter” informing the President of his “medical” leave.”
“Quickly, the President, Abdul Hamid, consented to Chief Justice Sinha’s reported plan to go abroad for “cancer” treatment after the Prime Minister & Law Minister respectively signed the relevant order, which is mandatory for any government official travelling abroad.”
“On the evening of 13 Oct 2017, the Govt of Bangladesh put Chief Justice Sinha on a Singapore Airlines flight from Dhaka to Australia. Before boarding the flt, he put out a statement in Bengali denying he was unwell & saying: “I am not sick, I am not fleeing, I am fully well.”
“In this way Bangladesh’s Chief Justice, Sinha, was exiled first to Australia. From there, he was re-located still into exile in New Jersey in the USA where he still lives – all this, because he cared to be a judge.”