It is important we get this straight. Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria is not a member of the PDP neither is he an APC member in the bad books of the Presidency.
If anything, choosing to charge the CJN for false declaration of assets with the 2019 general elections only a matter of weeks away would only be detrimental to Buhari and his party. They are the ones who will bear the brunt of a requital by the judiciary.
Having said that, I simply do not understand how Nigerians, who supposedly want the best for this country would find anything wrong with the Buhari administration’s move against the CJN.
The outcome of investigations by our authorities revealed that not only did Onnonghen fail to fill his 2014 asset declaration form,he declared 5 Standard Chartered bank accounts with one of those accounts holding about $164,000 and the other £108,000. Two other accounts held a total of over N11M and the last, an account holding €55,154.
Two other bank accounts with Union bank held Naira sums totalling more than N37M. All as at November 2016. Are we seriously trying to castigate government for looking into this man? There are oil magnates who can’t boast of that much liquid cash at hand.
Of what purpose is any anti-corruption campaign if there are corrupt people at the helm of the nation’s judicial system?
If there is one thing I have learnt from the Onnoghen situation, it is that our problem transcends Buhari, Jonathan or who was there before them. Our main problem is us. That Buhari has shielded his cronies and party faithfuls from prosecution or has turned out probably the worst President ever in our history doesn’t mean we shouldn’t appreciate any good thing he does. We are not only willing to live with corruption but are also willing to accommodate the very people who provide it an enabling ground just because we don’t like Buhari. What is happening to us?
Similar to the NBA-NEC resolution on the NBA President, Paul Usoro’s case with the EFCC where supposedly trained lawyers converged in a room to declare the EFCC a third party in a contractual relationship in the investigation of a financial crime, patriotic Nigerians devoted to seeing this country work have had to sit and watch respectable personalities, some of them lawyers, spew gibberish about the Onnoghen situation.
We have watched them ridiculously talk about the CJN refusing to enter into an agreement with the government for favourable judgements in election matters and how Buhari hates Southerners. Nobody has addressed the most fundamental issue which the CJN himself hasn’t denied. Were those outrageous sums really in his account? Neither has he nor anyone of his sympathizers bothered disputing that there were discrepancies in his 2 CCB forms as the authorities have claimed.
All we are hearing is Babachir this, Omisore that and then the issue of jurisdiction in the best but lame attempt at making rational sense. They have configured their psyches to see Buhari as a villain and anyone else, a victim.
While I am not disputing that Buhari’s selective and hypocritical anti-corruption crusade coupled with his mediocre performance as President have turned the tides of public opinion against him, it still is baffling that a genuine move in the best interest of the nation and one to his disadvantage, would attract so much hatred.
You can’t be Pro-Nigeria,Pro-Justice or any of the other many Pro-s these people parade next to their names and still not agree that a supreme court justice with that much in cash shouldn’t in one way or the other be asked any questions.
As things stand currently, the main issue is no longer ‘Babachir, Kalu and Omisore’ but that of jurisdiction. The provision of the law is every clear on false declaration of assets with the Code of Conduct Bureau by public officers; they will be tried at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. Plain and simple. Judicial misconduct will be dealt with at the National Judicial Council and nothing precludes our regular courts from trying criminal cases against judges. It is disgusting to see Senior Advocates of Nigeria arguing otherwise. God help us.
If we hate Buhari so much that we’ll never see good in anything he does then we are our problem more than he is.
Umar Sa’ad Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano