Are we as people ready to battle the monster call corruption and powered by elitism? – Ghani Rotimi

Can the conduct just chronicle stand beside the records of such greats? Please let no one ridicule the judiciary.

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Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen
Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen

Part of the problem with our public debate is lack of knowledge of the facts driving the debate and a lot of sentiments.

So on this issue I will try to explain what the President meant by the former CJN and his legal team using their privileged position to undermine the judicial process.

When this matter first came up, the CJN did not appear in Court. Why? He could not be served personally because he rejected service! Now no other person in this country can try that and get away with it but the CJN did.

When in Court, his array of SANs filed a motion challenging jurisdiction of the CCT and insisted it must be heard.

The CCT said it will hear it but the accused must first be arraigned before any question on jurisdiction and this is elementary law that the accused must first take a plea because that is how proceedings are commenced.

The former CJN still did not show up and his legal team instead filed an Appeal. Will he say he was not aware of proceedings that was carried even by international media houses? Of course not but he was simply abusing his power by ignoring judicial proceedings! No other person can try that and get away with it.

While the appeal was pending, several Courts Ex-Parte granted injunctions restraining a competent constitutional tribunal from doing its work even though they had no appellate jurisdiction over the tribunal!!

Even the industrial Court granted a restraining Order!!! Industrial Court!!!! All sorts of Courts were issuing all manners of Court Orders to protect the CJN who until now had ignored a quasi-judicial proceeding.

In other words, the continuous stay of the former CJN in office was impacting and impairing the ability of the CCT to do its constitutional job. Then the government brought a Motion on Notice seeking that the CJN steps aside and the President replaces him with the next in line.

Apparently, the same motion was brought Ex-parte and for ex-parte applications the other parties need not know. As we now know, that application was granted.

On Wednesday, we witnessed the unbelievable. The legal team of the former CJN filed a Motion to Stay of proceedings at the Court of Appeal however, there was no Ruling from the Lower Tribunal in the Record of

Appeal? Ask any lawyer who has done any work at the Court of Appeal, an Appeal cannot be entered without a copy of the ruling or judgment included in the Record of Appeal because it is at the heart of the case at the Court of Appeal.

That is why you are there- to complain about the Ruling or Judgment! The only alternative is to apply under the Court of Appeal Rules to Depart from the Rules!

In this case no such application was made but somehow, the appeal was not only entered within hours with Appeal number given, the motion filed based on that appeal was slated for hearing.

Counsel to former CJN admitted to this irregularity and addressed the Court for 2hrs urging that his Motion for Stay be granted. Again, ask any lawyer, no ordinary Nigerian can get this because this procedure and practice is unknown to law. The Court however, reserved its ruling for 30th of January but granted an Interim Stay till that date which in the circumstances was the right thing to do.

What is the point of all this? Evidently, the former CJN was using his position and office to push the entire judicial system beyond its limits in defense of himself.

Whereas he alone was the first to admit that he forgot to remember that he had $700,000 in a domiciliary account.

He alone could not explain why he had not touched his salary for 18 months.

He alone was later discovered to have $3,000,000 elsewhere and someone says ending such acts of abuse of office to shield questionable acts is a fight against the judiciary.

Is the judiciary the harbinger of such? This is the same judiciary that produced erudite Jurists like Justice Niki Tobi, Justice Kayode Esho, Obaseki JSC and many other eminent men.

Can the conduct just chronicled stand beside the records of such greats? Please let no one ridicule the judiciary.

Finally, beyond our support for one political narrative or another, we must always ask ourselves what kind of Country do we want to build for ourselves and our children.

PMB has done his part and even if he loses or wins in February, it does not change much because he has achieved almost all his heart desires. The man is 76 years old but we the young ones are still here with a country to live in! If we support such behavior then we are sowing the seed for an unfair, unjust and ultimately a pariah state!

In sum, the CCT gave an Order which to my mind is the proper Order to give in the circumstances.

Let no man be allowed to throw the weight of his office around in defense of himself especially a lawyer and in this case a respectable Justice of the Supreme Court. The bench is a sacred chamber and a holy ground occupied by men, great in their courage, boundless in their knowledge and unsurpassed in their moral rectitude. No one has said Onnoghen JSC is not but in the light of the allegations against him and his admissions/responses let him prove it just the way an ordinary man will because we are all equal before the law.

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