CJN Justice Walter Onnoghen
CJN Justice Walter Onnoghen

Still on the Onnoghen’s matter

By  Kabir O. Abdulsalam

So it happened, the helluva of democracy to dock the first man; among the hallowed doctrine of separation of power. The suspend Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen heading one of Tripartite independent organ that form our democracy. President Mohammadu Buhari acted on the speed weakness of the judicial system, throwing tyranny of weak institution. Jokingly, it shocked some us when the nation woke up to realized that due process was not abide to remove  NJC, thereby endangering democracy, underpinning this noble system of governance. this was never thought for the country as before a major election.

Onnoghen was charged before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) on Monday over allegations of false declaration of assets on a six-count charge. Aside allegation that he failed to disclose his assets as prescribed by law, Government equally accused the CJN of operating foreign bank accounts. About six foreign bank accounts bearing suspicious funds have been traced to Onnoghen, thus, cleared the pay grade of his position.

USD account- $1,922,657.00, Pounds account — £138, 439.00, Euro account — €55,154.00, Naira account — N91, 962.362.49.

Haba! A custodian of law, citing ‘forgetfulness’ of these monies which can bear a budget of some sovereign state in African Continent. Yes, it may sound unfamiliar, but I same it when Buhari swore about not knowing of initial arraignment, actually, He chooses little in what he ought to know.

Shortly after the arraignment, Buhari on Friday announced the suspension, Walter Onnoghen, hiding an order from  (CCT) to clearly went beyond his tenet to suspend CJN and  announced the appointment of the next most senior judge at the Supreme Court, Tanko Mohammed, as the new acting CJN. This give Nigerians the body posture of Buhari’s actionable faux pas for Tanko giving APC’s bidding after the vote, have put forward a valid argument. Fallacy, I don’t know how many court cases Buhari had respected.

The case of Onnoghen’s removal or naturally ( suspend according to Presidency) was facilitated by A civil society group, Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI), submitted a petition on January 7, 2019 to  CCB, alleging a number of infractions committed by Onnoghen. The petition was received by CCB on January 9, 2019. The charge sheet filed by CCB before CCT was January 10, 2019. Hmmm what a efficacy country Nigeria- if public servant can fasten their job like this, the country would be better off Canada that was reputed as the world’s most efficient efficiency.

In other clime, in US, the remarkable is the scenario of Justice Samuel Chase, who was impeached by the House in 1804, but easily acquitted by the Senate.  It was narrated that Chase act more as a prosecutor than a judge in some cases.  He took no pretense of giving Democrat-Republicans a fair shake..  Article II, Sect. IV of the United States Constitution. “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

In Nigeria, Section 292 of the Nigerian constitution spelt it out for  the removal of some public officials including the CJN. The section does not distinct  either suspension or  sack- a sitting CJN can only be removed from office by the president after at least two-thirds majority members of the Senate support such a move. No such matter has been debated in the Senate.

What a forgetful justice, as Onnoghen had the financial capacity to hire 150 most senior lawyers to defend him with other numerous lawyer in the court.  Some of his supporters, claiming protecting the Constitution and democracy, yet, the conundrum had left the man to prove his innocence in the court law.

Not surprisingly, there have been several instances of justice giving it to the highest bidder of case. Lawyers, judges induced with bribes, and judiciary has ultimately be way to make it and join the billionaire club- stuffed their mouth  with hard currencies to swing judgment. Dare Babarinsa a Columnist in Guardian Newspaper, narrated how past judges live a modest live even after retirement. He recounted a story of Justice Taslim Elias or Justice Chukwudifu Oputa would be put on trial for alleged stealing? Today, top officials of government, the judiciary or the legislator accused of stealing, instead of issuing a public statement to deny the allegation and defend their integrity in the court of public opinion, would rather hire an army of lawyers to defend their alleged infractions.

By the way, What is good for goose is as good for the gander, not  Buhari  should  be crucified of  wrongful action, Onnoghen corruption also must be condemn- it is case of two wrongs. Onnoghen was wrong not to have declared his assets as chief law officer of the federation he should lead by specimen to the judiciary. The truth must be told, if only Nigerians can do, with that swanky allegation, Onnoghen ought have bow out of his office and face trail squarely without interference. Buhari had made Onnoghen’s sympathizer much more focus on paddling way for next election hostile to corruption fight which notwithstanding can hamper on his re-election bid.

Needless to say, no administration has done enough to fight corruption even as the self-acclaim of this government. Much We all have a duty to ensure cleanse way  on corruption- so it does not find a comfortable home in Nigeria. Nigerians should not be suffocated with media hype of this administration over fighting corruption, Senator Sheu Sani had blast Buhari over using deodorant to fight corruption within his Cabinet against others with insecticides. The recent report of Transparency International Index shows the stance corruption battle of Buhari corruption handler had undermine Nigerian democracy and governance, however, the authorities need to understand that these acts deepen a sense of state of despair  among well-intend Nigerians which can affect his  moral Integrity coming election.


Kabir, wrote from Abuja


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