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Onnoghen: Mass action can’t undermine course of justice – FG

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OBIORA IFOH, Abuja

The federal government has said that in spite of the threat of mass action by some groups over the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, such action cannot undermine the course of justice while also warning that such protest must be within the limits of the law.

The government also said that the suspension of Justice Onnoghen is a consequence of his breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers and has nothing to do with the forthcoming elections.

Speaking to the newsmen in Abuja on monday the minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed also said the suspension does not signify the onset of dictatorship or tyranny as some have insinuated.

According to him, “More Nigerians are with us than are with them on this issue, going by the feelers that we are getting from across the country. Those who want to protest against the suspension of the CJN should feel free to exercise their rights, within the limits of the law.

“Contrary to the cacophony of voices that have been muddying the waters, the CCT was acting within its powers in ordering the suspension of Justice Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria, and President Muhammadu Buhari was right in carrying out the order.

“The suspension of Justice Onnoghen is a consequence of his breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers and has nothing to do with the forthcoming elections, neither does it signify the onset of dictatorship or tyranny as some have insinuated. It amounts to irresponsible extrapolation to say that the suspension of Justice Onnoghen is the onset of dictatorship.

“A section of the media shirked their agenda-setting role by failing to objectively lead the discourse on the issue of the allegation facing Justice Onnoghen and his subsequent suspension. Certain editorials crossed the acceptable limit of decent discourse, and did little or nothing to enlighten the public on the issue at stake.

“The opposition, in its reaction, is guilty of engaging in hysteria and for overheating the polity. Conveniently, they have anchored their failed campaign for the 2019 election on an issue that is totally unrelated to the election. By their reaction, they have made their tattered umbrella available for shielding alleged corrupt persons. Their leopard can never change its spots: The PDP is corruption personified and it’s only reason for seeking a return to office is to complete their looting of the national treasury. The attack dogs unleashed by the opposition have been engaging in incitement and other actions that can threaten law and order. There is no cause for alarm, as the law enforcement agencies are alive to their responsibilities.”

The Minister said that President Buhari is an avowed democrat, and this he has proven time and time again insisting that the present administration stands firm on the rule of law.

He said, “this whole issue is about the country’s highest judicial officer, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, being accused of a breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, and the legal and moral conundrum surrounding that. It is about the suspicious transactions running into millions of dollars to the suspended CJN’s personal accounts, all undeclared or improperly declared as required by law. It is about the Hon. Justice Onnoghen himself admitting to the charges that he indeed failed to follow the spirit and letter of the law in declaring his assets, calling it a ‘mistake’. And it is about him refusing to take responsibility, instead opting to put the entire judiciary on trial. Please remember that Justice Onnoghen has been given the opportunity of fair hearing, but he has been abusing his position and the judicial process by filing frivolous applications and even dodging service of process.”

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