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Onnoghen: Senior Lawyers Advocate For Probe Of More Judges


By Ganiyu Nasirudeen  

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – A group of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), under the aegis of Justice Reform Project (JRF) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to subject all other judges to the same type of probe the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Mr. Walter Onnoghen went through.

The body said its advocacy was in a bid for Federal Government (FG) to fish out all other judges living above their legitimate means.

In a statement issued by it Tuesday, JRP, which consists about 20 SANs,have argued that the reported voluntary resignation of embattled Justice Onnoghen should not be the end of the corruption allegations leveled against him.

The senior Lawyers insisted that, given the gravity of the allegations against Justice Onnoghen and his subsequent admission, the law should be made to take its course to show that it respects no one.

They averred that it was important for President Buhari to take this step in order to convince Nigerians that Onnoghen’s trial was not a ‘’politically-motivated witch-hunt and had no ethnic colouration’’.

JRF statement stated that the details of the allegations of financial mismanagement which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) leveled against Onnoghen in the petition it submitted to the National Judicial Council (NJC) and Onnoghen’s response to the allegations, “raised significant questions about the financial practices of the Nigerian judiciary and the various heads of courts.”

“Beyond Honourable Justice W.S.N. Onnoghen, the JRP believes the revelations that have been made in the course of this affair necessitate that urgent steps be taken to identify and sanction all other Nigerian judicial officers who are found to posses inexplicable wealth that cannot be reconciled with their legitimate income or their asset declarations, two of the allegations made against Justice Onnoghen.

“These steps are necessary for a variety of reasons. First, to ensure public confidence in the judiciary and disabuse the notion that all judicial officers in Nigeria are corrupt and that justice is for sale.

“Second, to disabuse the notion that Justice  Onnoghen’s travails are a mere witch-hunt motivated by ethnic and political interests rather than the result of a genuine concern for sanitizing and reforming the Nigerian judiciary.

“Third, to eliminate the suspicion that the executive arm of government is using the information it has access to, by virtue of its control over the apparatus of the state, to take selective action only against those judicial officers that fail to do its bidding’’ the association said.

Members of the group have therefore appealed to all lawyers in the country as well other members of the public not to hesitate to forward to relevant regulatory agencies corruption information on any judge they know.

JRF members also maintained that there was a need for the judiciary to regulate itself, so as forestal the Onnoghen experience in the future.

They declared that they were closely monitoring unfolding developments and would at the appropriate time make more recommendations for the reform of the judiciary sector.

Justice Onnoghen is currently standing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over alleged six count charge – bothering on non and false assets declaration to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

The three-man CCT panel headed by Justice Danladi Umar is set to deliver its ruling Thursday, April 18, 2019 on allegation against Onnoghen.  This follows filling of final addresses by both the prosecution and Defence Counsels on Monday – April 15, 2019.

 

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