By Oji Odu
Unfolding events on the travails of suspended Chief Justice of the Nation (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, have made not a few Nigerians ask: What about him? Why has the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration seemed to have lost sleep in recent times unless the man’s case is quickly nipped in the bud, less than 10 days to the 2019 general election?
What kind of man is Onnoghen? Is he a ‘political’ jurist, a member of the opposition political party, or a Nigerian that wants free and fair play, such that permanently silencing him seems to be the solution to the problems of this country? Or, is removing him the ace which the government needs in winning the 2019 election, bearing in mind that most of the opposition parties are opposed to Federal Governments actions against him? Is this part of the Buhari administration’s fight against corruption, which many see as not only full of controversies but questionable?
Since the travails of the suspended CJN, the Magazine’s findings reveal that he has refused to be vocal to defend himself on the myriad allegations against him. Also, the nations chief lawman is said to have rejected all mouth-watering options to voluntarily resign and be retained as member of the National Council of States, among others.
In his reaction recently, the first national spokesperson for the Coalition of United Political Parties, (CUPP), Ikenga Ugochinyere, in a statement accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of plans to arrest Onnoghen, while also alleging that the party has uncovered plans by the Federal Government to force the suspended CJN to resign “at gun point.” This is after he was said to have turned down the mouth-watering offers made to him aimed at giving him a soft landing. But the nations chief lawman would rather prefer an open hearing in his case.
“The secretariat of the CUPP has uncovered the latest plot by the Presidency to arrest the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen tomorrow (Wednesday) being February 6, 2019 and immediately commence their final descent to infamy by forcing him to resign at gunpoint.
“The latest recruit in this plot against the CJN being the Chairman of the EFCC has been given the mandate to execute this plot and has been told there would be no margin for error as the CJN must resign from office or from life one way or the other,” Ugochinyere claimed.
However, the acting spokesman for EFCC, Tony Orilade, debunked the claim and said he was not aware of plans to arrest Onnoghen. “I don’t have any information on any plan to arrest him. I am not aware of anything like that,” he said.
Further, the party alleged that some Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) in the CJN’s team are being coerced to withdraw, as their offices and homes are being monitored 24 hours by security agents of the government. Some of them say their phones have been bugged, with their bank statement of accounts obtained by the security men, all geared towards harassing and intimidating them into withdrawing from the CJN’s defense team.
Also, workers in Onnoghen’s farm at Uke, Nasarawa State are said to under threat to abandon their jobs by those who claim to be herdsmen or lose their lives. The legal team of the CJN has written to appropriate security agencies complaining about these intruders.
Following heated arguments between the CCT Chairman, Umar Danladi and Adegboyega Awomolo, lead Counsel to Onnoghen, the trial was adjourned to February 15, 2019. Meanwhile, the Onnoghen issue has continued to polarise the nations legislature and question the ability of the judiciary to defend the nations democracy after the 2019 general elections, bearing in mind alleged intimidations, threats et cetera.