Nigerians woke up in the morning of January 7, 2019 to hear that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen was a very corrupt man and that he would be charged to court on the 11th of January, 2019.
The news initially was thought to be just a rumour but when it was confirmed, there was hues and cries across the country.
One funny allegation was that he did not declare one of his assets ..Domiciliary account, which did not hold water. For every public servant, asset declaration is done every four years. And if a person gets a political appointment or elective post, it is done twice, while taking the oath of office and when the person is about to leave or leaves. These are the only stipulated periods assets are declared.
So, if the Chief Justice buy shares in a company or invests his fund in a business venture, years or months after declaring his asset on assumption of office, it is not a crime, asset declaration is not done every month.
The question here is not whether Chief Justice is guilty or not guilty but in tackling issues of corruption, the Federal Government has continuously goofed and made itself look foolish in the eyes of the public and the international community.
This is the second attempt to assault and rubbish the judiciary. 2016, the residence of six justices were raided with crow bars, chisels and hammers, their doors broken, furniture thrashed and the justices were accused of corruption and illegal possession of arm and ammunition, all these deeds were done at midnight, but at the end of the day the government still goofed as noting substantial could be deduced from its action.
The disturbing feeling here is that this ugly trend is coming barely month to the presidential and general elections in the country. And to the discerning mind it has political undertones. this is because to some observers of Nigerian politics, Justice Walter Onneghen, was never at any time the preferred candidate for the position of Chief Justice of Nigeria by who rather believes in appointing people he could trust especially persons of Northern extraction, preferably his fellow Muslim.
This feeling cannot be easily dismissed as virtually all heads of the country’s security outfits are headed by people from one section of the country and the only arm of government that is still outside this reach is the office of the CJN.
In condemning the recent assault on the judiciary, eminent nigerians including governors, legal practitioners; human rights activists and opposition political parties said the action was not only nauseating but a shame on the government for ridiculing itself in the eyes of the public and the international community. They said under the 1999 constitution, section 158 (1) it is only the National Judicial Council, NJC, that has the ample powers to deal exhaustively with matters pertaining to allegations of misconduct and discipline of Judicial officers, adding that without following the laid down procedure those responsible for the infamous act are just wasting their time.
What makes the proposed arraignment of the chief justice before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) look picious To that the petition was submitted to the EFCC on 7th of January and within 48 hours investigation has been concluded and the Chief Justice was invited to appear before the CCT on the 11th of January.
The psychological warfare being waged by the All Progessives Congress-led Federal Government right from its inception in 2019 against its Progressives political opponents and those it disagrees with on constitutional issues has been unrelenting. All what is does is tag someone as being corrupt, leak the information to the social media and other selected media houses and fan the flames of disinformation and propaganda and the rest they say is history. But one thing we should understand is that in a democracy dissent, criticism opposition, legislative and judicial independence are virtually part of the system.
Nigerians should be grateful that we have a vibrant media, judiciary and active set of social justice advocates otherwise the country would have been like Uganda under the dictatorship of late President Idi Amin who brooked no criticism, dissent or opposition to his rule.
After killing over 300,000 people or sending hundreds of thousands into exile his next target was the judiciary. He even had the effrontery to order the killing of the Chief Justice of Ugunda, Justice Benedicto Luwum. The justice was kidnapped right in his office at the court premises in broad day light in 1972 in Kampala and was never seen again.
When some Nigerians expressed their long held view that General Buhari has not shed his military posture, is not a democrat and will not fit in well in a democratic culture the naive ones disagreed and today what do we have? Yesterday, it was former President Goodluck Jonathan who was vilified, almost on a daily basis, then it was the turn of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki Saraki was accused of not declaming his asset of which he was discharged and acquitted.
Later he was accused of sponsoring armed robbers and he is still battling with the police. After Saraka Dino Meleye was next. Today it is the Chief justice, Justice Walter Onneghen Don’t be surprised if tomorrow it wont be the turn of one prominent critic or presidential candidate being accused of running a prostitution ring or peddling hard drugs.
It seems that the present administration has a dirty tricks department where allegations are cooked up against potential threats to its interest. The notion could not be farfetched as its modus operandus has always been the same, no finess, same story corruption and nothing else. For God’s sake there are other teething problems bedeviling the country. The presidency and the APC should focus more on issues like job creation, rapid infrastructure education, power supply than sing the archaic song of corruption ! corruption ! corruption !!!.
There is no country where you don’t have corrupt elements but in Nigeria we seem to have lost focus and instead of being holistic in our approach to issues have become “Tunneled visioned”. We can’t think outside the pox that’s why the democratic culture in most African countries are by far better than that of Nigeria.
The Judiciary in Nigeria is well respected globally, that is why prominent Nigerian jurists have served in the Gambia, Sieme Leone, Uganda and even at the Hague. And if the corruption mantra is so widely spread will these jurists be called to serve in these places?
The Nigerian Bar Association and other well meaning Nigerians must speak out and act now otherwise our hard earned freedom for a democratic culture will eventually fizzle out. Not even under the military rule where judges riducled and harassed publicly. This action has really taken Nigeria to the stone age. Wake up Nigerians! Wake up !!
Gbajabiamila Wants Assemblies To Rescue LG System
The Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, has urged State Houses of Assembly to save the Local Government Area system in Nigeria from imminent collapse through its instrument of law making.
The speaker made the appeal at the opening of a one-day round-table with Speakers of State Houses of Assembly in Lagos yesterday.
Declaring the round-table open, Gbajabiamila, represented by Mr Idris Wase, the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, said a revitalised local government system would bring about effective governance.
He said that for a more robust 9th Aassembly, there was need for State Houses of Assembly to invest in knowledge acquisition by running short and long term courses in areas such as budget implementation and related programmes so that through oversight engagements, they could insist on real value for money on contracts awarded for the well-being of citizens in whose mandate they stood.
Gbajabiamila disclosed that the National Assembly would commence its process on the work of its constitutional review committee.
“In that process, there will be need for synergy between the NASS and State Houses of Assembly.
“There is need for caution. The caution lies in our collective efforts to ensure that the work of lawmakers, be it in state or national, do not suffer any infringement.
“We must not only be seen to be working but work in a way that our work will speak for us. Of particular note is the need to point out the sanctity of the National Assembly do not suffer any infringement,” Gbajabiamila said.
He commended the organisers of the round-table, saying the timing was apt given that the 9th National Assembly was just concluding it’s preparation for proper take off in its four years duration.
In a goodwill message, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, Chairman of the Conference of Speakers of State Legislators of Nigeria, urged relevant stakeholders to intensify efforts toward implementation of the constitutional provision of financial autonomy to state legislature and judiciary with a view to strengthening democracy.
“It is well over a year that President Muhammadu Buhari gave assent to financial autonomy for both state legislature and judiciary in the last constitution review,” the Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly said.
Obasa, represented by Mr Abel Peter Dia, Taraba Speaker, urged the lawmakers to be active participants in the round-table.
Also, the Oyo State Speaker, Mr Adebola Ogundoyin, said the lawmakers as democrats want the laws implemented which was part of the reasons for the round-table.
“There are a lot of local government areas issues. We intend to resolve them once and for all and all arms of government.must sit to agree on the implementation,” he said.
Earlier in his address of welcome, the Director of National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, organisers of the round-table, said the conference was the first since the 2019 election.
He said the lawmakers had enormous responsibilities to the Nigerian people in the spheres of ensuring good governance, providing a forum for grassroots representation and oversights.
Kwara Assembly Dissolves Three Agencies
The Kwara House of Assembly yesterday dissolved three statutory commissions inaugurated by the last administration.
The three dissolved commissions are the Kwara State Civil Service Commission, Kwara State Independent Electoral Commission (KWASElC) and the state Assembly Service Commission.
The dissolution followed a request by GovernorAbdulRahman AbdulRasaq in his correspondences to the House read on the floor of the House read by the Speaker, Danladi Yajubu-Salihu.
The governor, in his three messages requesting the approval of the House for the removal of Chairmen and members of the three statutory commissions, said he relied on Section 201 Sub-section one and two of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He said that the chairmen and members of the commissions had been given fair bearing, but found them incapable of discharging their statutory functions as a result of gross misconducts.
The Speaker directed the Clerk of the House, Hajia Halimah Perogi, to conduct voting for members on the request of the governor .
The voting indicated that the required two-third majority supported the removal of the chairmen and members of the three commissions.
According to the governor’s message, the members of the Kwara State Civil Service Commission were Alhaji Sakariyah Onimago (Chairman), Samuel Bamisaiye, a member, Alhaji Sharook Mohammed, a member and AbdulSalam Agbaje-Opobiyi,a member.
Those removed at the Kwara State Independent Electoral Commission (KWASEC) were Eleja Taiwo-Banu (Chairman), Jimoh Gabriel-Yemi, a member, Nasuru Ayo-Lawal, a member, lssa Abdul-Kayode, a member, Dr Dele Kayode, a member, Saidu lssa-Abdulllahi, a member, and Adesina Mohammed, a member.
The members of the dissolved Kwara State Assembly Service Commission are former Speaker of the Kwara Assembly, Babatunde Mohammed, Nimota Aduke-lbrahim, Atolagbe Alege, Babako Mohammed and Alex Bankole.
The Speaker directed the clerk to communicate the dissolution of the three statutory commissions to the governor.
Dep Gov’s Impeachment: Kogi Assembly Urges CJ To Constitute Panel
The Kogi State House of Assembly has requested the state Chief Judge, Justice Nasir Ajanah, to constitute a seven-man Panel of Inquiry to investigate allegations of gross misconduct against the Deputy Governor of the state, Elder Simon Achuba.
The Assembly made the request in a resolution reached at plenary yesterday in Lokoja, following the adoption of a motion by the Majority Leader, Abdullahi Bello-Balogun (APC-Ajaokuta).
The motion called for an investigation into the allegations, which is a second step toward impeachment of the public officer.
Presenting the motion, Bello-Balogun said the motion was sequel to issuance of a Notice of Allegations to the deputy governor on August 8, 2019.
He explained that the deputy governor evaded service of the Notice of Allegations on him and also directed that none of his aides should receive any correspondence from the Assembly on his behalf.
Bello-Balogun said that the prayers calling for investigation in the motion were in line with Section 188(3) which stipulated that the House should resolve by motion, supported by not less than two-third of members, to request the Chief Judge to set up the seven-man panel to investigate the allegations.
According to him, the deputy governor’s open vilification of Governor Yahaya Bello and the State Government as well as the alleged discrete and open support for candidates of the opposition parties during the Presidential, National and State Assembly elections in February and March, amounted to gross misconduct.
Supporting the motion, the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Mohammed (APC-Ankpa), described the situation as worrisome and the motion as appropriate.
Mohammed said that the seven-man committee should be made up of persons of impeccable character as outlined in the country’s constitution.
Ruling on the motion, the Speaker, Prince Matthew Kolawole, said questions as to ascertain the number of members who supported the adoption of the motion was 19 and more than the required number of 17 members
Kolawole, therefore, directed the House to communicate to the Chief Judge to within seven days constitute a panel to investigate the deputy governor.
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