Former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, says his unceremonious removal from office was due to an allegation that he fraternised with opposition leader Atiku Abubakar prior to the 2019 general elections.
Speaking at a book launch in the company of his wife, Mr Onnoghen said he was removed from office on the basis of a false accusation that he held a secret meeting with the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, in Dubai ahead of the 2019 elections.
”I was removed from office due to rumour from the executive that I had a meeting with former vice-president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in Dubai in preparation for the 2019 general elections,” Mr Onnoghen disclosed.
The former CJN denied ever travelling to Dubai to meet Mr Atiku. He said he dismissed the rumor without a reaction when it was brought to his knowledge since he did not make any such visit. Mr Onnoghen also said that he was accused of setting free high profile criminals.
Mr. Onnoghen further said that he was disappointed that the federal government which had all the resources to investigate the claims refused to, and decided to abruptly make unlawful decisions.
Prior to his removal, Mr Onnoghen had announced that he would inaugurate judges that will preside over election petition tribunals. He was summarily suspended barely eight hours after he made the disclosure.
Mr Onnoghen’s suspension was actualised barely 29 days to the 2019 general elections, an action which generated several reactions from different quarters. It was described by the NBA as an attack on the judiciary.
The jurist was later convicted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, on six-count charges of corruption that the Federal Government laid against him.
The former CJN further reiterated that the appointment of judicial officers should never be politicized, otherwise democracy would be dead.
“Here, 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,” he said.
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