Ricardo Montalban once theorised that “politics is too partisan, and sometimes patriotism is cast aside. Patriotism is honor and love of your country and your brothers and sisters. With politics I get the impression that it’s all about what’s good for the party and not necessarily what’s good for the country”. The above quotation is apt for the vexed issue of Onnoghen. He has been mob-lynched, with the very judiciary he headed being the ironical cross that was used for his crucifixion. On this note, we shall conclude same today. Thereafter, take on a female heroine in Accord Concordia.
Funny and phoney charges
It is clear that when you want to hang a dog, all you have to do is to simply give it a bad name. That happened to Onnoghen. How could Justice Walter Onnoghen have influenced about 11 Justices of the Supreme Court to allegedly pervert the course of justice with a mere car gift worth #7 million, as alleged by EFCC in its petition to NJC? One of the allegations was that the sum of #24 million which accrued to Onnoghen between 2017 and 2018 as estacodes (like other judges) and paid through the Chief Protocol officer of the Supreme Court, one Ngozi Nwankwo, had suddenly graduated to become a criminal offence!
Onnoghen’s traducers did not care that Rule 13.5 (2) of the “Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers” (published February, 2016), permits a judicial officer to accept “personal gifts or benefits from relatives or personal friends to such extent and on such occasion as are recognized by custom”. Why should they care, anyway; when Onnoghen must be vilified and crucified?
It was simply satanic to link Onnoghen’s gifts to Supreme Court cases in which he did not even sit as a member of the panels, simply because one of the Counsel who gave him gifts during his child’s wedding had appeared before the above mentioned Justices during the period in question.
Some of the phoney and ridiculous charges against Onnoghen are that Onnoghen had failed to declare his assets, and that he also maintains domiciliary accounts, contrary to the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act. Hello, domiciliary accounts are not foreign accounts. What the Constitution forbids are foreign accounts, not local domiciliary accounts. Are we re-inventing the wheel and turning the Constitution upside down to achieve a pre-determined end?
Need for a strong and independent judiciary
A strong and independent judiciary is one of the irreducible fundamental platforms for any meaningful constitutional democracy. If you terrorise, intimidate, harass and humiliate the judiciary, using strong hand and brute force, it is a stage set for bidding democracy farewell.
It is clear to me and any objective observer that the charges against Onnoghen were highly political, politicised and designed to intimidate the Judiciary itself ahead of the 2019 presidential election and force out Onnoghen, who, as the CJN, was expected (as the Head of the judiciary) play a major role in the system, to entertain disputes arising from the presidential, National/state Assembly and Governorship elections.
Many facts bear this simple logical deduction out. The petitioner, an NGO, actually committed the Freudian slip by anchoring its petition on “bearing in mind the imminence of the 2019 general elections and the overwhelming role of the judicial arm both before and after…”.
The second fact is that even after recommendation of Onnoghen as CJN by the NJC on 13th October, 2016, it took VP Yemi Osibanjo, SAN, the courage to appoint him as CJN on 1st March, 2017, after stringent protests and outcry by overwhelming majority of Nigerians, and at a time PMB was actually abroad on medical vacation. Three, Onnoghen became the first Southerner to be made CJN in 30 years, after the last Southerner, Justice Gabriel Ayo Irikefe, occupied that exalted office in 1987. Four, Onnoghen had been CJN for well over a year before his problems started. How come the Executive suddenly woke up from a deep slumber and discovered his operation of domiciliary accounts many years before he was appointed CJN, which accounts, according to the petition, had been in existence since 2011; a period during which, since 2005, Onnoghen had already been a Justice of the Supreme Court?
When have Nigerian security agencies been so efficiently optimised and displayed such pro-activeness that a petition written by an NGO on 7th January, 2019, received by CCB on 9th January, 2019, was acted upon with such “automatic alacrity” that by 11th January, 2019, charges had been filed against Onnoghen. And wait for it, Onnoghen was arraigned on Monday, 14th January, 2019, all within one week! What of the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Act, which prescribe certain necessary steps that must be taken before a charge is filed?
How come the CCT granted an ex parte order not moved by any lawyer on record to order a sitting CJN to “step aside” from office? What would be the final punishment at the end of the trial? What happened to the provisions of section 3 (d) of the CCB / CCT Act which provides that admission of non-compliance with the provisions of the Act on declaration of assets shall be a bar to arraignment and prosecution before the CCT? Why was Onnoghen’s case different?
Whatever judgement may emanate from the CCT tomorrow, it is clear to me that Onnoghen had already been tried in the media, convicted by powers that be; and sentenced before trial through removal from office.
This forced him to resign. These travails are already far beyond the sentence and punishment provid4ed by the CCB/CCT Act.
I believe that this onslaught is to finally cow and if possible, annihilate the Judiciary, the last hope of the common man and woman. Nigerians now appear to live in self-inflicted bondage of dictatorship and absolutism. Citizens now talk in whispers, afraid of even their own shadows. Only those who support the government in power, however corrupt they may be, find peace and solace. Like Naaman the leper, who deeped himself into River Jordan seven times and became cleansed of his leprosy, all that a corrupt politician needs to do to be washed clean of his political leprosy (as white as snow), is to decamp to the ruling APC. He would be embraced immediately, given a front pew, inducted into the hall of fame, and put in charge of government affairs and our collective destiny. This is quite sad.
Some Nigerians are still playing the proverbial Ostrich in the full glare of this clear and present danger. They are behaving like the “Chichidodo” bird talked about by the Ghanaian author, Ayi Kwei Armah, in his epic novel, “The beautiful ones are not yet born”. The bird hates human faeces, but paradoxically, feeds on maggots that wriggle out of such excreta. Some people are bent on breaking up Nigeria. I will never allow this, from my little window of objective social criticism and campaigns for a better, more inclusive, justice – based, equitable and egalitarian Nigeria, where all Nigerians are happy and fulfilled.
Thought for the week
“A zeal for the defence of their country led these heroes to the scene of action, though with a few men to attack a powerful army of experienced warriors”. (Daniel Boone).
Queen Amina of Zaria in accord concordia, fighting for Nigeria’s elusive unity (23)
Amina Of Zaria
One of Nigeria’s earliest icons, Queen Amina was a Hausa Muslim warrior. Queen of Zazzau (now Zaria), in what is now North West Nigeria, she is the subject of many legends. But, she is believed by historians to have been a though ruler. There is controversy among scholars as to the date of her reign. Some scholars placed her in the mid-15th century, while others placed her reign in the mid to late 16th century.
Amina was born around 1533 in Zaria, a province of today’s Nigeria. She was the daughter of Bakwa of Turunku. Their family’s wealth was derived from the trade of leather goods, cloth, kola, salt, horses and imported metals.
When Bakwa died in 1566, the crown of Zazzua passed to Amina’s younger brother, Karama. Their sister, Zaria, fled the region and little is known about her.
Although Bakwa’s reign was known for peace and prosperity, Amina chose to hone her military skills from the warriors of the Zazzau military. As a result, she emerged as leader of the Zazzau cavalry. Many accolades, great wealth, and increased power resulted from her numerous military accomplishments.
Amina’s legendary exploits and arrival on the national scene
More recent oral tradition tells a series of lively stories about the Queen, and these have found their way into popular folklore culture. Among them were that Amina was a fierce warrior who loved fighting. As a child, her grandmother, Marka, the favorite wife of her grandfather, Sarkin Nohir, was said to have once caught her holding a dagger. Amina holding the dagger did not shock Marka. Rather, the shock was that Amina held it exactly as a warrior would. As an adult, she refused to marry for fear of losing power. She helped Zazzau (Zaria) to become the centre of trade and also to gain more land. Her mother, Bakwa, died when Amina was just 36 years old, leaving her to rule over Zaria. When her brother, Karama died after a ten-year rule, Amina had matured into a fierce warrior and had earned the respect of the Zazzau military. She thus assumed the reign over the kingdom.
Amina led her first military charge a few months after assuming power. For the rest of her 34-year reign, she continued to fight and expand her kingdom towards being one of the greatest in history. The objective for initiating so many battles was to make neighboring rulers become her vassal and permit her traders safe passage.
In this way, she boosted her kingdom’s wealth and power with gold, slaves and new crops. Because her people were talented metal workers, Amina introduced metal armor, including iron helmets and chain mail, to her army.
To her credit, she fortified each of her military camps with an earthen wall. Later, towns and villages sprang up within these protective barriers. The walls became known as “Amina’s Walls” and many of them remain in existence to this day.
According to history, Amina bluntly refused to marry and never bore children. Instead, she took a temporary husband from the legions of vanquished foes after every battle. After spending one night together, it was said she would condemn him to death in the morning, just to prevent him from ever speaking about his sexual encounter with the revered Queen.
Exit of a legend
Records also pronounced that she died during a military campaign at Atagara, near Bida, in the present Niger state of Nigeria. Her exploits earned her the moniker, “Amina, daughter of Nikatau, a woman as capable as a man.” Her legendary exploits made her the model for the television series, “Xena Warrior Princess”. Today, her memory represents the spirit and strength of womanhood. (Concluded).