Walter Onnoghen, former Chief Justice of Nigeria has finally opened up on why the Buhari’s led administration removed him from office in 2019 unceremoniously.
Onnoghen claimed that his removal from the office of the CJN was based on the rumors from the Executive that he had a meeting with the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, president flag bearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in Dubai, the United Emirates, ahead of the 2019 elections.
He said this while speaking at a book launch titled ‘Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009, Practice, Procedure, Forms and Precedents’, authored by a well-known legal practitioner, Chief Ogwu James Onoja, in Abuja.
Onnoghen said the situation escalated following the commencement of his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal begins, even though he had not been invited or accused of any wrongdoing.
While lamenting that democracy was dead in Nigeria without brave judges, the former CJN stated thus:
“Prior to my suspension, I was confronted with no allegation. There were rumors that I met with Atiku in Dubai. As I am talking here today, I have never met Atiku one on one in my life. As if that was not enough, I was also accused of setting free, high-profile criminals, whereas I seized to be a High Court Judge as far back as 1978.
“In the Supreme Court, I did not sit alone. We sit in panels. In all these rumors and outright accusations, I was not given the opportunity to defend myself.
“Let me make it clear that the office of the CJN was not for Onnoghen but for all Nigerians who had sworn to guide and protect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“To say the least, the period of my ordeal was the darkest era in the history of the Nigerian judiciary.
“As I have severally, Judicial officers must be courageous. And I want to beg all serving judicial officers not to be discouraged by what happened to me in the hand of the Executive arm of the government.
“Emerging Nigerian judges should not go the direction of injustice because, without courageous judges and justices, Nigeria is doomed.
“Here, let me sound this note of warning that the appointment of judicial officers must never be allowed to be politicized; otherwise, democracy and democratic governance will be dead.
“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 favor.