Sunday, May 9, 2021

Ex-CJN Onnoghen opens up on relationship with Atiku, 2019 elections


tiamin rice

Former Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has opened up on the 2019 general elections and the events that led to his sack by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Recall that in the build-up to the 2019 elections, Mr Onnoghen was accused of being partisan, especially his reported meeting with former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, UAE.

He was later sacked by the President over alleged corruption and partial declaration of assets.

Speaking on Friday during the unveiling of a book entitled: “Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009, Practice, Procedure, Forms and Precedents” authored by Ogwu Onoja, the former CJN said he never met Atiku one-on-one in his life.

According to Mr Onnoghen, when the rumour was thick about his alleged romance with the presidential candidate, he decided not to react to it because he never travelled to Dubai or held any meeting with anybody, including Mr Atiku.

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“Prior to my suspension, I was confronted with no allegation, there were rumours that I met with Atiku in Dubai.

“As I am talking here today, I have never met Atiku one on one in my life.

” I was also accused of setting free, high-profile criminals, whereas I seized to be a High Court Judge as far back as 1978.

“At the Supreme Court, I did not sit alone, we sit in  panel. In all these rumours and outright accusations, I was not given an opportunity to defend myself,” the former CJN said.

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According to him, the office of the CJN is not for Mr Onnoghen but for all Nigerians who have sworn to guide and protect the Constitution of the Federal Republic.

The former CJN appealed to all serving judicial officers not to be discouraged by what happened to him but to continue to discharge their duties to the best of their ability.

He also urged Nigerians to stand by the truth saying only justice could rescue Nigeria.

Mr Onnoghen stressed that the appointment of judicial officers must not be politicised for democracy and democratic governance to thrive in Nigeria.

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He said: “Let me sound this note of warning that the appointment of judicial officers must never be allowed to be politicised, otherwise, democracy and democratic governance will be dead,” Mr Onnoghen said.

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The ex-CJN also noted the need for judicial officers to be courageous in the discharge of their duties.

“Emerging Nigerian judges should not go the direction of injustice because without courageous judges, Nigeria is doomed.

“During my tenure, the problem of Nigeria was not the Nigerian judiciary, but those who had no regard for the rule of law.

“We must therefore be committed to the rule of law and dispense justice without fear or favour.

“Truth stands, crush it, it will still stand because it is truth,” Mr Onnoghen said.

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