The defence of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen (CJN), by Governors of the South-South States, encouraging him to ignore summon on him by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), has been described as a conspiracy against the Nigerian Constitution.
Making the allegation in a statement circulated in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, one of the most consistent voices of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-South region of the country and erstwhile National Publicity Secretary (NPS) of the defunct New PDP, (nPDP), Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, also pointed out that the action of the Governors and the subsequent concession of Justice Onnoghen, have revealed that the nation’s Chief Justice has been a secret member of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) all along.
It would be recalled that some of the Governors of the South-South, mainly members of the PDP, had held an emergency meeting in Abuja on Sunday, after which they advised the CJN not to honour the summon by the CCT to respond to allegations of improprieties in his statutory obligations, regarding full disclosure of his assets. Sadly, the CJN heeded the advise of the PDP Governors.
He went further to express surprise at the reaction of the Governors, describing it as a call for chaos, undermining of the nation’s nascent democracy, wondering what the big deal was with having an officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who is not under the protection of the constitutional immunity clause, face the law to explain why he flouted the laws he is meant to obey.
“What is playing out is that South-South Governors and some PDP bigwigs are trying to protect one of their own. The hullabaloo, hues and posturing are nothing but a disservice to the fight against corruption, which is the hallmark of the administration of President Buhari.
“What is expected of most of those crying wolves is to examine the provisions of the law as it relates to the proposed charge(s) against His Lordship which are unambiguous and clear. The CJN is alleged to have maintained foreign accounts and domiciliary accounts in foreign currency; His Lordship is alleged to have failed to declare his assets in violation of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.
“Let me reiterate that Schedule V, Part 1, of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended provides in paragraph 11 thereof as follows:
“11.1. ‘Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, every public officer shall within three months after the coming into force of this Code of Conduct or immediately after taking office and thereafter –
- at the end of every four years; and
- at the end of his term of office, submit to the Code of Conduct Bureau a written declaration of all his properties, assets, and liabilities and those of his unmarried children under the age of eighteen years.
“11.2. Any statement in such declaration that is found to be false by any authority or person authorised in that behalf to verify it shall be deemed to be a breach of this Code’.
“The same law provides that no public officer shall maintain any foreign account.
“Fortunately, the Chief Justice of Nigeria has accepted to have erred by not declaring his assets as and when due and for some people now to ask the Chief Justice of Nigeria not to answer some of these charges is to state to some of us that either the Chief Justice of Nigeria is above the law and can’t be tried or the PDP seems to be at a loss that without the present CJN they have lost the 2019 general elections.
Eze expressed sadness and shock that for a high ranking PDP officer like Prince Uche Secondus the National Chairman of PDP to have boasted and threatened that, “Buhari should leave the CJN alone, if he wants crisis we’re ready” attests to the fact that the CJN may have been a strong member of PDP and need the protection of a political party that have become embodiment and epitome of corruption. If it is proven that the CJN is corrupt as alleged, how do one expect him not to be biased in his judgment?
“I must state that those promoting the CJN not to answer for his crimes are not doing him any good but are attempting to ridicule him. As the embodiment of our law, he must show example by subjecting himself accordingly and free himself from anything to portray him as being corrupt.
Eze went further to remind the South-South Governors and other PDP bigwigs that “Dasuki, a Prince of the Sokoto Caliphate, is still held, and Northern Governors are not protesting. Kemi Adeosun, a bright young Finance Minister was eased out of office for personal reasons of NYSC, yet South-West governors never called for an emergency meeting. Justice Ayo Salami was messed up by erstwhile President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, without explanation, the South-West kept mute, even when they had enough might to fight such”.
Eze advised the CJN to adhere to the wise counsel of Prof Akin Oyebode a Professor of International Law & Jurisprudence, that, “I want to respectfully say that, the CJN, His lordship, Onnoghen, should disqualify himself from further participating in any Judicial matter, in other to protect the sanctity of the Judiciary” .
This administration promised to fight corruption no matter who is involved and needs the support of all and sundry in this war against corruption that have become epidemic and ready to consume us all and continue to deny us the dividends of democracy if not eradicated.