The Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has backed President Muhammadu Buhari over the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.
The ACF stated this in a communiqué after its meeting presided over by its chairman, Alhaji Adamu Fika in Kaduna.
“That among the assets he failed to declare are bank accounts in local and foreign currencies whose values run in millions of Naira. He also failed to declare other assets, including many houses and other landed property. That subsequent investigations have continued to unearth other property belonging to Justice Onnoghen, not declared,” the ACF noted.
The ACF, in the communiqué signed by Mr. Anthony Sani, Secretary-General of the forum, said Justice Onnoghen was said to have told investigators that the reason for his not declaring those assets was forgetfulness.
The forum said following the discovery of these infractions, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), swiftly referred the matter to the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) which made an order for the temporary suspension of the CJN in the interest of natural justice.
However, this action by the CCT has provoked intense controversy.
It said, “And yet, from a reading of all the facts of the matter, ACF cannot defend the position taken by the Hon. Justice Onnoghen, especially his insistence that he should first be tried by the National Judicial Council, of which he is Chairman. To do so would have allowed him the seat in judgment over his own case.
The ACF said it “deeply regrets the conduct of Justice Onnoghen, particularly his refusal to step aside and allow the due process of the law to take its course saying he has created the impression that his personal interests in this matter supersede that of the judiciary and the nation.”
The ACF called on law enforcement agencies to strive to always execute their tasks in neat and professional manner in order to avoid creating perceptions of partisanship saying in the end, Nigeria cannot hope to develop and take its rightful place in the comity of nations unless and until it learns to respect laws and enforce them fairly and consistently.