The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo has expressed sadness over the trial of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen, on allegations of false and non-asset declarations, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari had no prior knowledge of the arraignment until late Saturday.
As reported by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Osinbajo who was speaking on Wednesday at the 2019 Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPAN) conference in Abuja, stressed that the President knew nothing about the arraignment because his approach to governance is that institutions should do their work without any form of interference from the Presidency.
“ I can tell you for a fact that he did not even know about this until Saturday evening. He did not even know that there will be any kind of arraignment until Saturday evening. He has said categorically, do not interfere with whatever institutions are doing; sometimes, it has consequences such as we have today; such that people say how can such an important person be subjected to a trial without the Federal Government?” he said.
“But I can tell you without any equivocation whatsoever that he was not even in the know because it is a specific instruction that he gave. So, even where somebody else calls a public officer such as Ibrahim Magu of EFCC and says something or the other, he will say `no, no, no, Mr president has said I can do my work.,” he added.
According to Osinbajo who himself is a Professor of law, “My take is that I would rather not have a situation where senior members of my profession are being tried for an offence; certainly, I will rather not have that kind of situation.
“So, I do not feel particularly good about it; as a matter of fact, I feel very sad; that it is going on at all, that is my position.’’
Meanwhile, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) has reportedly succeeded in serving the criminal charges on false asset declaration on the person of the Chief Justice of Nigeria(CJN), Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen preparatory for his arraignment on January 22, 2019 at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
In a report by PRNigeria, a source confirmed to it that the charges were personally served on the CJN on Monday 14, January 2019 by 3.30pm in his office at the Supreme Court of Nigeria Abuja, for which he signed, in line with legal conditions required for him to be properly arraigned at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The development is coming in spite of the orders of a Federal High Court and National Industrial Court both in Abuja which restrained it from proceeding with the arraignment of CJN pending the determination of two different suits before them, although a legal source who spoke to the medium says the order of both courts may not be binding on the tribunal since they are courts of coordinate jurisdiction which by law have equal powers.
Following the reported receipt of the charges personally by the CJN which stalled his earlier scheduled arraignment on Jan. 14, the coast may just be clear for his formal arraignment by the Federal Government on January 22, 2019 before Justice Danladi Yakubu Umar led-tribunal.
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Political Journalist, Analyst and Social Change Advocate with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.