Justice Onnoghen’s saga recently took another dimension first, with viral video in which a lawyer known as Okereke Kingdom made abusive comments against the Acting CJN vilifying his person as a former “sharia judge”, claiming that he was never called to the bar. The unprofessional conduct of Mr. Kingdom may be a talk for another day!
Of course, this lie and disrespect was easily sold across the country due to obvious reasons such as:(1) the Agt CJN is a northerner and every northerner is presumed a product of quota system up till tomorrow, until he proved himself worthy. Just recently a colleague, Sani Ammani was called a product of “quoter system” and he had to take the pains of clarifying to his abuser that it is “quota” not “quoter” system; (2) the Agt CJN is a Muslim and in the world of media today, every Muslim is bad until they proved themselves innocents.
Little wonder when last week a lady was inquiring from me whether it’s true that the ‘new CJN’ wasn’t called to the bar. After I clarified that by the constitution he can never be a Supreme Court Justice if he’s not a lawyer; she asked again ‘what about that bag he went to the swearing-in with?’, I told her it contains the locally made Holy Qur’an the same with any Holy Qur’an with which all Muslims are sworn to office as the Christians use Bible.
In the same last week, a cab man whom I talked with to sample public opinion said “the man (the Agt CJN) has about 30 children how can he not be corrupt?”
The challenge above from people of lesser qualifications never deserve my writeup until I unfortunately saw Segun Adeniyi in his Thursday column on Thisday Newspaper mentioning that Tanko, has 32 children most of which studied abroad and he ordered the Agt CJN to step down.
Now, as I responded to that cab driver, our late father left 38 children and while he was alive their where not less than 10 children of friends and relatives who lived and studied under our roof and he was never a public servant; he never begged; and there was never a day that we were not fed. Most importantly, we have about 20 university graduates and to be graduates studying or working in various sectors of the economy in addition to those in business and we’re just fine up till today. When I finished making this point to the cab man he looked at me once again in shock. Our father wasn’t as rich as a justice of the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, we got good education and he even took care of the children of other prominent families, but Mr. Adeniyi so unfortunately thinks that Tanko needs to steal to educate his children abroad. This is heartbreaking! 30 children are not given birth to in a day and they don’t grow up in same day or go to school in same day sir.
Secondly, Mr. Adeniyi claimed that the Agt CJN had once sat on the NJCs committee which recommended the removal of a Chief Judge of Abia State who made himself available for appointment after the Governor arbitrarily removed the substantive Chief Judge without NJC’s recommendation. Unfortunately, this has with all due respect further showcased the sentiment of Mr Adeniyi who earlier made a subtle case for the Suspended CJN on the so-called “rule of law” but forgot or refused to look into the case of Tanko which is 360 degrees different from that of the said Abia Chief Judge. In the case of Tanko CJN, a court whose trial was frustrated by abuse of court process suspended Onnoghen not Buhari, no matter how hard people like Mr. Adeniyi are trying to twist the fact. Onnoghen, who’s under the Jurisdiction of a court has been suspended by the court and the same court ordered that the President should appoint the next most senior Judge to act in his place pending the determination of the suit based on its inherent jurisdiction.
This is in line with the 2016 position of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) under the able leadership of AB Mahmoud SAN, that all judges under prosecution should recuse themselves but the CJN refused until the court forced him to. Lest I forget, orders of courts are deemed correct until set aside on Appeal, unfortunately, the likes of Adeniyi and Mr. Abakoaba SAN who might have been earlier decrying the President’s disrespect of Courts orders are now suggesting that not only the President but Tanko, a Justice of the Supreme Court, should disrespect court orders. What a world! By the mere 1st order of suspension against Onnoghen, Section 231 mandates Tanko to be sworn as Agt CJN. Don’t forget that Mr. Adeniyi in an earlier column of penultimate week has made a passive strong case for the suspended CJN pretending he knows nothing about the CCT order. In short, Adeniyi’s column (“Averting a needless constitutional crisis “) succeded in giving technical defense to Onnoghen, while bending facts to crucify Tanko and unfairly and with all due respect shamelessly attacked the Agt CJN’s family life.
But that was a better column because it gives reasons no matter how biased or bad, compared to that of the learned Prof. Jideofor Adibe who only used his last sentence to demand the resignation of Tanko because he “believe” that people see him as Buhari’s CJN with no other reason (Daily Trust, 31/1/2019 “Is Nigerian democracy in recession?). With all manner of respect this is the last baseless point one will expect from a certified columnist of his calibre. How would the country be if Buhari will for example removes Onnoghen because he “believes” the CJN is seen as a PDP CJN?
However, I was consoled by the rich column of Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim of the next day (Friday, 1/2/19) titled “Onnoghen:Getting the Judiciary and the bar to work for justice “ in which he was able to call a spade by its name and demanded stakeholders in the legal profession to simply live aboveboard and regulate themselves.
When I was challenged by the above lady why is it that the heads of all the arms of Government are northerners, I simply asked whether it was Buhari that also appointed Saraki and Dogara or whether the judiciary is under president Buhari’s pocket too.
In an era where one honest Nigerian is challenged just for his faith, section, tribe, manner of dressing or his number of children regardless of his fundamental rights against discrimination while, another of different faith, section or tribe who has grave allegation of shameless corruption hanging on his neck is protected just for his faith, then we are in big mess. May God save Nigeria.
Hussaini Hussaini is a legal practitioner based in Abuja and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org