From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen on Friday opened up for the first time on why he was unceremoniously removed from office in 2019 by the Federal Government.
Onnoghen, who spoke in Abuja, said his sudden removal was politically motivated as it was based on his alleged meeting with former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar in Dubai.
He made the revelation at the unveiling of a book “ Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure), Rules, 2009, Practice, Procedure, Forms and Precedents,” written by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief James Onoja.
The former CJN, who attended the book presentation in company of his wife, revealed that prior to his removal, there had been rumour from the Executive that he had held a meeting with Atiku Abubakar in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, preparatory to the 2019 general elections.
Onnoghen said the rumour was thick and spread fast, but he decided not to react to it because he never travelled to Dubai or held any meeting with anybody, including Atiku.
The former CJN however said that he was surprised that despite the fact that the Federal Government had all the machineries and manpower to investigate the allegation of the rumoured meeting with Atiku, it never did so, but opted to unlawfully go after him and his office.
Onnoghen said that the situation got to the peak when all of a sudden, his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal was arranged, even when he had not been invited or accused of any wrongdoing.
He said that the action of the government against him further got to the peak when in the course of the trial and when parties had joined issues, an ex-parte application was suddenly brought in, and what followed was his illegal and unlawful suspension as the CJN.
“To say the least, the period of my ordeal was the darkest era in the history of the Nigerian judiciary
“As I have severally said, judicial officers must be courageous. And I want to beg all serving judicial officers not to be discouraged by what happened to me in the hand of the executive arm of the government,” he said.