ABUJA/Nigeria: The Federal Government, in a move that had never witnessed in the country, a move had been made to remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, with a six-count criminal charge slammed against him, over his alleged refusal to declare his assets. The main opposition party in the country, had however called the move by the federal government to gag the judiciary ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Aside allegation that he failed to disclose his assets as prescribed by law, FG, in the charge that was filed by the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, equally accused the CJN of operating foreign bank accounts.
The prosecuting agency alleged that contrary to relevant laws regulating conduct of public office holders, the CJN, maintained a domiciliary foreign currencies account that comprised of Dollars Account, Pound Sterling Account and Euro Account.
According to Vanguard Newspaper, FG has concluded plans to dock the CJN before the Justice Danladi Umar’s led Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, in Abuja, on Monday, even as it has prepared a motion for the tribunal to compel him to vacate his office to concentrate on clearing himself of the criminal allegations against him.
The application dated January 11, was signed by two senior lawyers at the CCB, Musa Ibrahim Usman and Fatima Danjuma Ali.
The motion, if granted, will see the replacement of Justice Onnoghen who is the first Southerner to attain the position of the CJN in over 30 years, with the next most senior jurist on the apex court bench, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed, who is from the Northern extraction.
Though it is not readily clear if FG’s move against the CJN is part of intrigues precipitating the 2019 general elections, however, Justice Onnoghen had on Tuesday last week, declared the readiness of the judiciary under his leadership, to dispassionately resolve disputes that will arise from the impending elections.
Justice Onnoghen, whose appointment suffered unprecedented delay by President Muhammadu Buhari over undisclosed issues, may be the first CJN in the annals of Nigeria to be arraigned for criminal charges by the government.
Meantime, whereas section 291(1) of the 1999 constitution, as amended, provided that a judicial officer appointed to the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal, may retire when he attains the age of 65 years and shall cease to hold office when he attend the age of 70 years.
Presidency plotting to annex Judiciary – PDP
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the Buhari Presidency of plotting to destabilize and annex the Judiciary ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The party also alerts of allegations that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and cabal at the Buhari Presidency are hounding Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen and seeking his removal so as to cause a constitutional crisis, instill fear in judicial officers and pave way for the foisting of a pliable CJN that will do their bidding on electoral matters.
This is particularly following allegations that the APC seeks a new CJN that will aid its rigging schemes as well as execute the plot to use the court to detain and put opposition members and outspoken members of Civil Society Organizations out of circulation during the general elections.
This development is a clear recipe for anarchy and a huge crisis that is capable of fracturing our justice system and derails our democracy as it portends a prelude to a total clamp down on institutions of democracy and rule of law in our country.
The PDP therefore urges all Nigerians, the United Nations and all international bodies to unite in the defence of our democracy, especially at this very critical time in our political development. Charge against Onnoghen attempt to gag judiciary – Hon, SAN Read more at: or General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, whose tenure has expired and who had also been rejected by Nigerians due to his manifest partisanship, to go.