Presidency kicks As Onnoghen Links Buhari, Atiku Electoral Contest To Removal As CJN - IReporteronline
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Presidency kicks As Onnoghen Links Buhari, Atiku Electoral Contest To Removal As CJN

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A former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen (retd.), on Friday, said the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), removed him as CJN before the 2019 general elections because the President was informed that the ex-Chief Justice had been in a meeting with former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Abubakar was the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Onnoghen spoke in Abuja during the public presentation of a book titled ‘Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009, Practice, Procedure, Forms and Precedents,’ written by Chief Ogwu James Onoja (SAN).

He said though the rumour was thick and spread fast, he decided not to react to it because he never travelled to Dubai or held any meeting with anyone, including Atiku.

The former CJN, however, said he was surprised that despite the fact that the Federal Government had all the machinery to investigate the allegation of the rumoured meeting with Atiku, it never did so, but opted to unlawfully go after him and his office.

Onnoghen said his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal was quickly arranged, even when he had not been invited or accused of any wrongdoing.

He added that the action of the government against him further worsened when, in the course of the trial and when parties had joined issues, an ex-parte application was suddenly brought in, followed by his “illegal and unlawful suspension” as the CJN.

The former CJN said, “Prior to my suspension, I was confronted with no allegation. There were rumours that I met with Atiku in Dubai. As I am talking here today, I have never met Atiku one-on-one in my life. As if that was not enough, I was also accused of setting free, high-profile criminals, whereas I ceased to be a High Court judge as far back as 1978.

“In the Supreme Court, I did not sit alone. We sit in a panel. In all these rumours and outright accusations, I was not given opportunity to defend myself.

“Let me make it clear that the office of the CJN was not for Onnoghen but for all Nigerians who had sworn to guide and protect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. To say the least, the period of my ordeal was the darkest era in the history of the Nigerian judiciary.

“As I have said repeatedly, judicial officers must be courageous. And I want to beg all serving judicial officers not to be discouraged by what happened to me at the hands of the executive arm of the government.

“Emerging Nigerian judges should not go the direction of injustice because without courageous judges and justice, Nigeria is doomed. Here, let me sound this note of warning that the appointment of judicial officers must never be allowed to be politicised, otherwise, democracy and democratic governance will be dead.

“During my tenure, the problem of Nigeria was not the Nigerian judiciary, but those who had no regard for the rule of law. We must therefore be committed to the rule of law and dispense justice without fear or favour. Truth stands; crush it, it will stand because it is truth.”

He said his ordeal in 2019 was not the first, adding that at a point during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, a commission was set up and that he was indicted of wrongdoing, even when he was not invited to defend himself.

Onnoghen, however, said because Obasanjo was a leader who listened to advice, the matter was referred to the National Judicial Council for review.

According to him, at the council, truth surfaced and it was upheld to resolve uncleared issues.

He urged Nigerians to stand by truth because only justice could rescue Nigeria.

However, a  Presidency official who did not want his name mentioned because he has not been authorised to speak on the matter said there was no truth in Onnogen’s claim on the reason behind his leaving office.

The source said the former CJN was duly charged and convicted.

He wondered if Onnoghen was indicting the same judicial system which he presided over.

The Presidency official said, “Recall that Onnoghen was charged before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

“Recall also that evidence was presented. He contested the evidence and he lost, then he was convicted.

“So, what is he saying? Is he faulting the same judicial system which he presided over?

“As far as I know, his claim of a rumoured meeting with Atiku in Dubai was not part of the issue before the CCT. So, why change the narrative at this time?”

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, could not be reached on the telephone for comment as of the time of filing this report.

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COVID-19: Nigeria Records 74 Fresh Cases

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, has confirmed 74 fresh cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in 8 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The agency made the announcement on Tuesday night via a tweet on its verified Twitter handle.

NCDC also discharged 48 patients who have been successfully treated against the virus.

No death was recorded in the last 24 hours.

So far, the country has registered about 163,911 positive cases of COVID-19 with 2,061 fatalities while no fewer than 154,225 have recovered from the virus.

The tweet reads: “74 new cases of #COVID19Nigeria;

Lagos-30
Enugu-11
FCT-11
Akwa Ibom-8
Osun-5
Kaduna-4
Ebonyi-2
Rivers-2
Ekiti-1

163,911 confirmed
154,225 discharged
2,061 deaths

“Our discharges today includes 21 community recoveries in Akwa Ibom State managed in line with guidelines”.

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Okorocha Speaks On His EFCC Arrest

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A former Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, has insisted he was merely invited and not arrested by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday.

EFCC Head of Media, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed Okorocha was picked up from his private office.

However, Okorocha in a statement signed by his spokesman, Sam Onwuemeodo, stated that the EFCC facility is not “a slaughterhouse” and was only investigating his activities while he was Governor, following several petitions written against him.

The statement read, “We have been inundated with calls by media houses and concerned Nigerians and beyond, trying to confirm the reported invitation of Senator Rochas Okorocha by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, later today, being April 13, 2021.

“The truth is that Okorocha left as the governor of Imo State on May 28, 2019. And shortly after his exit as governor, Imo State Government wrote petitions upon petitions against him.

“The EFCC investigated the petitions and has been in various courts of the land with Okorocha to that effect.

“And if the EFCC has decided to invite Okorocha for clarifications on the matters already in courts, especially with a new Chairman at the helm of affairs at the Commission, there is nothing wrong with that.

“The matters between EFCC and Okorocha over his governorship in Imo have been pendent in various courts of the land.

“At the end of the day, we would know whether the Commission will be withdrawing the cases in courts, or would continue with the cases already in courts.

“But to us, the Commission is doing its job and should be given the needed cooperation. And Okorocha being a law-abiding citizen, would always cooperate with the Commission over the matters in courts. EFCC is not a slaughterhouse, but a very responsible institution and should be seen as such.

“We have no reason to complain about the invitation of today, which Okorocha honoured as a patriotic and responsible Nigerian.

“As we stated earlier, the Commission didn’t invite Okorocha today, for the first time.”

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Court Reinstates Edo Commission Sacked By Oshiomhole 13 Years Ago

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The Court of Appeal, Benin Division, on Tuesday, set aside the dissolution of the Edo State Law Review Commission for the past 13 years over failure to follow due process.

The commission was dissolved in 2008 by the administration of Governor Adams Oshiomhole.

In a unanimous‎ judgment, the court ordered that the commission’s members be reinstated and be allowed to complete their tenure, which should now run from March 25, 2021, to August 25, 2025.

In the judgment delivered by a three-person panel and read by Justice Biobele Abraham Georgewill, with justices Oyebisi Omoleye and Fredrick Oho as members, the appellate court held that Mr Oshiomhole’s government did not follow the laid-down procedure in dissolving the commission.

In the suit (No B/375/OS/2009), the appellants were Jonathan Aghimien (SAN), T. E. Ogbeide-Ihama, and Edward Aigbanbe, while the Edo governor, the attorney general, and the House of Assembly were the respondents.

The appellants challenged the ruling of Justice Nogi Aifuwa Imoukhuede of the state’s high court, which dismissed the appellants’ claims for being statute-barred.

In his ruling, Mr Georgewill declared that “the dissolution of the Edo State Law Review Commission and consequent termination of the appointments of the Appellants on 24/11/2008, without due compliance with the provisions of the Revised Edition Law of Edo state 2001, by the 1st Respondent, the then Executive Governor of Edo state is null, void and of no effect whatsoever.”

The court set aside the letter issued by the then-Secretary to State Government on behalf of the governor, saying it was issued without compliance with the Revised Edition Law of Edo State 2001.

He said, “An order is hereby given reinstating the appellants to their aforesaid position as Chairman and members of the Edo State Law Review Commission to serve out the remainder of their five-year tenure.”

He added, “Thereafter from the date of this judgment being 25/3/2021 to 25/8/2025 totalling five years in line with Section 7 (1) of the Revised Edition Law 2001 of Edo state, excluding the period from 24/11/2008 to 25/3/2021, unless the appellants are removed in line with the provision of the Revised Edition law of Edo State of Nigeria 2001.”

(NAN)

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