The Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON), like many other stakeholders as well as countless observers, was shocked to hear the announcement in the early hours of 16th February, 2019 by the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of the postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections from 16th February, 2019 to 23rd February, 2019  and the Gubernatorial and Houses of Assembly elections from 2nd March to 9th March, 2019. We consider this development as disheartening.

Considering the fact that the schedule for the 2019 General elections was released by INEC over a year ago, the fact that the 2019 elections are the most expensive in the history of Nigeria, the assurances INEC had repeatedly given to the eleventh hour, of its readiness to hold free, fair and credible elections at the scheduled times and the significant international attention the elections have attracted as demonstrated by the large presence of international observers, one cannot but shudder at the explanation of logistic challenges of implementation of the election schedule proffered by INEC as the sole reason for the postponement of the elections.

There is no doubt that the postponement of the polls has resulted in considerable loss of time, earnings and human and material resources for individuals, families, businesses, Civil Society Organisations, the political parties/party candidates, international governmental organisations, development partners and the Federal Government of Nigeria, among others.

The postponement of elections viewed against the backdrop of the specific request for same addressed to INEC by the Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice makes it compelling for a reasonable person to draw the inference that INEC may not be totally free from political pressure. We however note the assurances of the Chairman of INEC that only logistical challenges have occasioned the shift in election dates.

We urge INEC to justify the shift in the dates for the general elections by delivering the best elections in the history of Nigeria.

We commend the patriotic sacrifices of Nigerians demonstrated so far and in the present circumstances, we urge our compatriots to be patient and go through the process with the resilience we are known for.

We call on all political actors to desist from putting under pressures on INEC while we remind the electoral body to discharge her duties as an unbiased and truly independent umpire. We call on all the organs of the Federal Government of Nigeria to support INEC as mandated by the Constitution to succeed in this important national assignment. The whole world is watching us and we cannot afford to let our citizens down.

We call on all eligible voters and Nigerians to remain law abiding, calm and not to be discouraged, but to see the disappointment as one great sacrifice to make for our dear country and thus be prepared to go out and vote on these new dates. We as a people owe this duty to our country to resist voter apathy which may undermine the credibility of the elections. By doing this, we shall demonstrate our resolve to ensure only credible and worthy leaders are voted into office.

As an organisation, we (CLASFON) had carried out sensitization campaigns across the nation urging the populace to shun violence and vote trading, during and after the elections. We believe our messages resonated well with the Nigerian electorate and will find fulfilment in the engagements with politicians during the forthcoming elections.

We are deeply concerned about the safety and security of sensitive election materials that have already gone out and implore INEC to institute a transparent process for their retrieval or recall and safe keeping ahead of their time of use. This will allay the fears of all stakeholders in view of media reports of fake or thumb printed ballot papers and other sensitive electoral documents in the public domain.

We suggest a reorganisation of INEC’s logistics infrastructure to cope with the challenges of our environment and call for a periodic update to critical stakeholders on the progress made to ensure that INEC deliver credible polls on 23rd February, and 9th March, 2019.

We urge all Nigerians to see beyond our present challenges and to embrace hope bearing in mind that all things will work together for the good of Nigeria and the welfare of its citizens and residents.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Arome M. Okwori
National President

Olatunji Omole
National Secretary

Dated Saturday, the 16th day of February, 2019.

NJC Gives Onnoghen, Acting CJN Seven Days To Respond To Petitions

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has given Justice Walter Onnoghen and the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Mohammed, seven days to respond to different petitions written against them.

The NJC gave the ultimatum on Tuesday during an emergency meeting which was presided over by a former president of the Appeal Court, Justice Umar Abdullahi.

In total, the NJC considered four petitions including one against the Chairman of the Code Of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar, which was referred to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) which is the appropriate constitutional body empowered to deal with it.

The NJC is to reconvene on February 11, 2019.

Read the other petitions in the statement below.


29th January, 2019

NJC ends Emergency Meeting

Gives Hon. Mr. Justice W.S.N. Onnoghen, GCON and Hon. Mr. Justice I.T. Muhammad, CFR seven (7) working days to respond to petitions.

Refers petition against CCT Chairman, Danladi Yakubu Umar to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).
To reconvene on 11th February 2019.

The National Judicial Council held an Emergency Meeting today and considered four (4) petitions filed at its Secretariat. The petitions are:

Petition against Hon. Mr. Justice W.S.N. Onnoghen, GCON by Zikhrillahi Ibrahim of Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civil Education;

Petition against Hon. Mr. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, CFR by Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative;

Petition against Hon. Mr. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, CFR by Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, OON; and

Petition against Hon. Danladi Yakubu Umar, Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal by Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative.

Council referred the petition against Hon. Danladi Yakubu Umar to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) which is the appropriate constitutional body empowered to deal with it.

In line with its procedure, Council also forwarded the petitions against Hon. Justices W.S.N. Onnoghen, GCON and I. T. Muhammad, CFR to them for their responses.

In view of the gravity of the matters involved, Council abridged the usual response period from fourteen (14) to seven (7) working days for the Hon. Justices to respond.

Hon. Mr. Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen, GCON and Hon. Mr. Justice I.T. Muhammad, CFR recused themselves from the meeting. Consequently, Council elected Hon. Mr. Justice Umaru Abdullahi, CON, former President of the Court of Appeal as Interim Chairman to preside over the meeting.

Council will reconvene on the 11th February 2019.

Soji Oye, Esq.
Director (Information)




When tyranny & oppression come to the land, it will be in the guise of fighting crime” ~ James Madison

On Friday, 25 January 2019, the legal sector was jolted by the news that President Muhammad Buhari had suspended the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen and immediately replaced him with Justice Tanko Muhammed as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria. The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria expressly condemns this unconstitutional act by the President and notes that this is a move which signals a total disrespect for the Rule of Law and in turn the fundamental rights of the citizenry. This is not only distressing, it is absolutely objectionable.

Immediately after the act, President Buhari explained in a 25-paragraph speech that he was complying with an order made ex-parte by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), which was dated the 23rd day of January 2019. In paragraph 10 of the speech, the President noted that “Nigeria is a constitutional democracy, and no one must be, or be seen to be, above the law.” Yet, it is contended that the very reason the President relies on as a motive for the swift suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), is what he essentially has disregarded. By undermining and contravening the provisions of S292 and paragraph 21(b) of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) on the process for removal (temporary or permanent) of the CJN, President Buhari can be said to be acting above the law.


In August 2018, at the opening ceremony of the Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association, President Buhari made a remark that shook the nation, when he said that “the Rule of Law must be subjected to the supremacy of the nation’s security and national interest”. That statement gave a deep insight into the flawed governing strategy applied by the President and the Federal Executive Council. The President’s suspension of the CJN is a clear example of this flawed governing strategy. Respect for Rule of Law and protection of the fundamental rights of the citizenry is the foundation of any democratic society, and so issues of national interest must be dealt with in accordance with the Rule of Law, and with due regard for Fundamental Rights.

The curious speed and timing of the progress of the Tribunal trial of Justice Onnoghen suggests a coup against the judicial arm of government and an attack on the independence and integrity of the Judiciary. The law is expressly clear on how the CJN can be removed from office and neither the Code of Conduct Bureau nor the Code of Conduct Tribunal are vested with that power. Due process for the removal of the CJN is by recommendation of the National Judicial Council, followed by an address presented to the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which then requires approval by a two-thirds majority vote. No aspect of this process was followed and this confirms neglect for due process and the Separation of Powers which the Constitution so clearly provides for and guarantees.

Furthermore, the President can be seen to be acting against court orders from the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court which he ought to be aware of, and this is deeply distressing. If the President can be seen to foster the culture of impunity which is already so entrenched in the Nigerian society, where then is the hope for regular citizens that the legal system can be entrusted? Where is the hope that the right to a fair hearing will be enforced and secured?  How can the government maintain its authority to demand that its citizens comply with the Constitution if it does not do so itself? There are so many questions to ask in this sorry saga. If the Federal Government is really a respecter of the Rule of Law, then it should also respect due process of the law, and it should show Nigerians this by immediately complying with all valid and subsisting Orders of court made against the Federal Government. If the government seeks to fight corruption, then due process ought to be followed, and a lack of due process indicates an abuse of power and sets a very dangerous precedent.

The President should not be seen to be acting above the law and fostering the culture of impunity. The suspension of Justice Onnoghen ridicules and reduces the integrity and high status of the third arm of government which is the Judiciary…the last hope of the common man. Where impunity reigns, abuse is commonplace and the women and children who are typically the most vulnerable in society suffer most.

FIDA Nigeria therefore calls for the immediate withdrawal of the suspension of the Hon. Justice Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, in order to avoid further crippling the independence and effectiveness of the Judiciary. President Buhari not only risks the credibility of the upcoming general elections in Nigeria, but also demeans the legal profession and risks damaging the reputation of Nigeria in the international community.


Rhoda Prevail Tyoden

Country Vice President\National President

Eliana Martins

National Publicity Secretary

Source: Facebook

I have not resigned, says suspended CJN Onnoghen

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, who was suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari last Friday, has debunked the rumour gaining traction online on Monday that he has resigned.

Onnoghen, whom President Muhammadu Buhari replaced with the next most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Tanko Mohammed, as Acting CJN, debunked the rumour in a statement on Monday.

The statement was signed by his media aide, Awassam Bassey, who described the CJN’s rumoured resignation as “fake news circulated by mischief makers.”

“Mischief makers are still circulating this fake news. Once again, no truth in it whatsoever. The Hon CJN, Hon Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, GCON, has not resigned,” Bassey said.

The rumour came less than 24 hours to the emergency meeting summoned by the National Judicial Council to deliberate on Onnoghen’s suspension and Muhammad’s emergence as the Acting CJN.


The Buhari administration has since Friday, come under scathing and widespread criticism locally and from the international community for being ill-timed, coming in the eve of the imminent general elections.


Onnoghen: Details of NEC meeting emerges as NBA embarks on boycott of courts

The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has announced plans to embark on a two-day boycott of courts following the suspension of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.

The decision was taken after the just concluded NEC meeting over controversies surrounding suspension of Onnoghen.

The statement read: “The NBA-NEC Emergency meeting which was held today, the 28th of January 2019, ended with some resolutions.

“It was held that lawyers all over Nigeria boycott all courts in the land for two days starting from the 29th day of January, 2019.”


  1. NBA Condemns in strong terms the Unconstitutional Suspension of the CJN.
  2. NEC resolved that Members should boycott all Courts for the next 2 days starting from tomorrow the 29th to 31st of January, 2019.
  3. NEC Ratified the Constitution of a 3 Man Committee (which may be expanded) made up of Former Presidents Olanikpeku, A. B. Mahmood and President Paul Usoro to interface on the issue.
  4. NEC adopted and ratified all actions and statements earlier issued by the President on the Prosecution and Suspension of the CJN.

Source: Daily Post. 


The Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON) observes with dismay the purported suspension of Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen, GCON, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the swearing-in of Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, as another Chief Justice of Nigeria in an acting capacity, by His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on Friday, 25 January, 2019.
It is our considered view that by this decision, the executive arm of government under the  supervision of the President has precipitated a needless constitutional crisis having regard to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances entrenched in the said Constitution.
The President in his speech disclosed that he was obeying the directives of the Code of Conduct Tribunal contained in an ex parte order made on 23 January, 2019 but which was served on him “a short while ago” presumably on 25 January, 2019 before taking the steps referred to above.
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria1999 does not make express provision for the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria but this does not foreclose the exercise of disciplinary measures including suspension of the said judicial officer pending resolution of grave moral or criminal allegations against the holder of the important constitutional office. The point we are making is that taking the radical step of suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria without recourse to the National Judicial Council (NJC) is a naked usurpation of the functions of that constitutional organ and a brazen violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which the President has sworn to protect and defend. The Constitution, subject to its provisions on removal of certain judicial officers, has vested the NJC with power to exercise disciplinary control over all judicial officers.
We must state categorically that the order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal upon which the President acted to remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria and to immediately swear in Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad is completely alien to our criminal jurisprudence and we condemn this action in strong terms. This is against the backdrop of the ongoing proceedings before the Code of Conduct Tribunal which had just the previous day 22 January, 2019 been further adjourned to 28 January, 2019 for hearing of the Motion on Notice.
It is apparent from the President’s speech that the decision to suspend the Hon Justice Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria was hinged on his refusal to “remove himself” for the time being on account of allegations of corruption. According to President Buhari, “One expected that with his moral authority so wounded, by these serious charges of corruption, more by his own written admission, Mr. Justice Walter Onnoghen would have acted swiftly to spare our Judicial Arm further disrepute by removing himself from superintending over it while it lasted”. It must be remarked that these allegations of corruption referred to by the President have not been brought before any court of competent jurisdiction.
The President demonstrated a complete misunderstanding of the decision-making process of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and arrogated to the Chief Justice of Nigeria powers which he does not possess by suggesting he can influence the decision of the apex court one way or the other contrary to his judicial oath as contained in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution.
The President also clearly demonstrated disdain for due process, respect for the elementary principles of natural justice and the rule of law by constituting himself as the accuser or prosecutor, witness and judge at the same time in respect of the allegations against Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen. These are roles the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, like the constitutions of all civilised nations, have assigned to different persons to ensure justice is not only done but manifestly seen to have been done. If the allegations that huge sums of money and properties that cannot be justified are found in Justice Walter Onnoghen’s possession are thoroughly investigated by the appropriate authority and it is found that the CJN has a case to answer, it would then have been dealt with accordingly following due process. We cannot understand the rush especially in view of the subsisting order of the Court of Appeal restraining the CCT from further action pending the determination of the appeal. The action shows lack of respect for an order of competent because the President cannot pick and choose which court orders he deems fit to obey. That will be arbitrariness of the highest order in a constitutional democracy.
Our position as an organisation is that a judicial officer or public office holder who is found guilty of corruption has betrayed the confidence of the public and violated the law of the land. Such an officer is not fit to remain in office for a day beyond the time of proof of his guilt. In fact, such a judicial officer deserves to be punished according to the law of the land and must forfeit his ill-gotten wealth. However, the constitutional stipulation of the presumption of innocence must be observed in all cases. Due process cannot be subverted otherwise judicial independence will be compromised and then a descent to anarchy will be irreversible. It is also our considered view that if a corruption trial is handled properly, the Defendant will have no choice but to himself to the dictates of the law as no one is above the law.
The unusual speed with which the President acted when he summarily suspended Justice Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria and swore in Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad in view of the general elections just a few weeks ahead makes us to believe that the removal was politically motivated given the crucial role of the office of Chief Justice of Nigeria in the adjudication of electoral disputes. This development portends a clear danger to our democracy and care must be taken to shield the judiciary from political partisanship in such an open and glaring manner.
Assuming as the President wants Nigerians to think and believe, the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria is due to the lack of co-operation by the Apex Court with President Buhari in his perceived fight against corruption, does this then mean the Justices of the Supreme Court must decide cases based on the whims and caprices of the President rather than on the basis of facts before them? If indeed the decision of the Supreme Court is compromised as claimed by President Buhari, do you hold the Chief Justice of Nigeria alone responsible for such decisions? The President’s posture with all due respect to his office is a present danger to the entire Judiciary and the institution of justice in Nigeria.
We state categorically that the exalted office of the President has been diminished by the President’s accusation against judgments of the Supreme Court of Nigeria which in the President’s judgment “serially set free, persons accused of corruption, often on mere technicalities, after quite a number of them have been convicted by the trial and appellate courts”.  This blanket labelling of Supreme Court Justices who are by tradition precluded from joining issues with the President is most unfortunate and is a direct attack on judicial independence.
We condemn unequivocally constitutional infractions and disregard for the due process of law evident in the suspension of Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria without the recourse to the NJC. We counsel against turning Nigeria to a country of all possibilities where the rule of law and constitutionalism lie prostrate.
We call on the President to abide by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and allow the National Judicial Council to perform its role regarding the consideration of the allegations of breaches of the Code of Conduct against Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen.
We condemn the media trial of Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and call on the executive arm to forward all allegations of improprieties against the Chief Justice of Nigeria to the National Judicial Council for its immediate action or to a court of competent jurisdiction.
We call on the Nigerian Bar Association to take immediate steps to mobilise members of the Bar to protect the independence of the Judiciary and in defence of the Constitution and our nascent democracy.
We call on the NJC as the face of the Judicial Arm of the Government in Nigeria to follow past precedents on Judicial Policy to take a decisive decision regarding the unilateral actions of the President in order to defend the independence of the Judiciary from further assault and desecration by the Executive.
Pending the decision of the NJC, we demand a reversal of the steps taken on 25 January, 2019 by the President and a return to the status quo in the overall interest of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and fidelity to the principles of separation of powers, rule of law and constitutionalism entrenched in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
Arome M. Okwori
National President
Olatunji Omole
National Secretary


At the meeting of the President-in-Council of Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON) held on the 8th day of March, 2018 it was resolved as follows:

CLASFON President-in-Council considered the pervasive insecurity and the inaction and apparent indifference of our national defense and internal security forces; as manifest in:-
The escalation of herdsmen and terrorist attacks across certain parts of the country especially in Benue State, Plateau State, Taraba State, Kaduna State, Zamfara State;
The escalating genocidal herdsmen attacks on defenseless, indigenous communities and unabated Boko Haram offensives;
The continued bombings, kidnaps of innocent Nigerians, particularly, the Dapchi School girls and disruption of socio-economic activities in North-East Nigeria;
And notes with dismay;
The tough policy and judicial action of neighboring nations of Niger, Chad and Cameroon, against convicted terrorists, as against the pacifist and ambivalent policy and stance of the Federal government against same; and
The deliberate and conscious exposure of local communities and people by the selective disarming of local vigilantes and the technical displacement of indigenous communities;

And therefore resolved that;
The Federal Government should review its anti-terrorism strategy and harmonize its penal sanctions with those of neighboring States and rescind its pacifist policies towards terrorism and thereby avoid turning Nigeria into a fertile terrorist enclave;
(ii) The National Assembly should review the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act, 2013 with a view to amending it to meet the challenges of national security and to conform to regional security standards;
(iii) The seeming indulgenceof herdsmen terrorists by the Federal Governmentand her apparent reluctanceto apprehend local and trans-national terrorists which has left Nigerian communities vulnerable to unprovokedattacks and invasion is unacceptable and symptomatic of a failed State brought about by political incompetence.
The meeting considered the destruction of farmlands and displacement of farmers and communities across the country resulting in low agricultural yield and induced famine and poverty amongst the people; Continue reading COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE PRESIDENT-IN-COUNCIL MEETING OF THE CHRISTIAN LAWYERS’ FELLOWSHIP OF NIGERIA (CLASFON) HELD ON THURSDAY THE 7TH- 10THMARCH, 2018 AT THE TOKYU GRAND HOTEL, PORT HARCOURT, RIVERS STATE.


The news of the return of the abducted Dapchi girls by the Islamic extremists group Boko Haram after negotiation with the Federal Government is commendable and we thus commend the Muhammadu Buhari led administration.

It is however painful to hear that five of the abducted girls had died before the release and we commiserate with the parents and family of the deceased abducted girls.

It is further very much disheartening to hear that one of the abducted girls, Leah Sharibu is still being held captive by the extremists on account of her refusal to renounce Christianity and convert to Islam.

We find it reprehensible and view it as an act of callousness on the part of the Federal Government in allowing Leah to continue to be held in captivity in the course of their negotiation on account of her religious faith. Continue reading A CALL ON MR PRESIDENT TO ENSURE THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF LEAH SHARIBU

CLASFON Lagos Elects New Officials

The Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON) Lagos Branch on Thursday 5th October, 2017 elected new executive committee officers that will lead the Lagos branch of the organization.  Lawrence C. Nnoli, Queen Onuobia and Oluwafemi Ijayeoba were elected as chairman, secretary and public relations officer respectively.

In his inaugural speech, the newly elected chairman, Lawrence C. Nnoli pledged on behalf of the newly elected leadership to uphold the ideals of the organization and further take the Lagos branch of CLASFON to greater heights.

CLASFON is the umbrella organization for all Christian lawyers in Nigeria. Established in 1979, CLASFON membership includes judges, magistrates, lawyers and law students from all Christian denominations. CLASFON has played a major role in helping to define church/state relationship in Nigeria.

The tenure of the newly elected executive committee officers is for three years.