ONNOGHEN: Loudly Branded A Rogue But Mousy Charged On Failure to Declare Assets, By Ken Tadaferua

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It is indeed most interesting, the final address by the prosecution in Buhari government’s case against the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Onnoghen at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
Interesting because the prosecution laid out a six point charge that merely revolve around an alleged single offence: that Onnoghen took office as Justice of the Supreme Court on June 8, 2005 but did not declare his assets until December 14, 2016, which is said to be in contravention of Section 15(1) of the Code of Conduct Act. For this the prosecution wants a conviction and jail term for Onnoghen in line with Section 23(2) of the same Act.
I will not delve into the fine points or merits or demerits of the prosecution’s submission. That is for the Asiwaju Adegboyega Awomolo SAN led defense team. However in its final address, the defence asked the CCT to nullify the six counts arguing that they have no foundation or root in Section 15(2) of the Code of Conduct and Tribunals Act. 
As the country awaits the ruling of the CCT, the prosecution’s six point charge is, in my view, of peculiar interest if not intrigue. It neither charges Onnoghen of falsifying his assets nor criminal acquisition of multi-billion Naira assets beyond his regular financial means. Simply put, the Chief Justice of the Federation was suspended from office and forced to resign because of an alleged lapse, to wit, failure to declare his assets. 
It is for this reason, a vicious campaign of calumny against Onnoghen as an ultimate swine of judicial corruption was vigorously orchestrated in the mass media. It was for this reason that he was publicly vilified as a thief with several private foreign bank accounts brimming over in multi-billion dollar balances. 
It is for this reason that the man’s hard earned professional distinction and reputation garnered over the decades was rubbished and dragged mercilessly through the slimy mud of political chicanery before the whole world, his family, wife, children and his associates from the pinnacle of a distinguished career as a Justice of the Supreme Court and Chief Justice of the Federation. 
If it is beyond reasonable doubt that Onnoghen did not declare his assets in 11 years and thus the CCT finds him guilty of the offence and sends him to prison, the law will be argued must take its course. And of course, not a few finger pointing hypocrites would celebrate and proclaim in self righteousness that the conviction of Onnoghen is a great example of how President Buhari takes no prisoners in his war against corruption. 
It might be interesting to know why the Code of Conduct Bureau was silent for all of eleven years that Onnoghen is alleged to have failed to declare his assets until the eve of the 2019 presidential election. It will be also interesting to know why the President, head of the executive arm of government will take personal interest to subject, humiliate and suspend the head of another arm of government, the judiciary, for not declaring his assets. 
I doubt that the CCT will at this point convict Onnoghen. It will be meanness taken too far. For good reason. The humiliation and removal of Onnoghen on the eve of the 2019 presidential elections  has nothing to do with corruption though the EFCC is labouring to rope in Onnoghen as a thief. His removal is, in my view, a ruthlessly cold scheme in which the CJN was used as a pawn on the political chessboard. Now used and dumped, Onnoghen is no longer of interest to the Napoleons of power. 
My doubt is predicated not only on facts and truth of the matter but that President Buhari haven achieved his objective is no longer bothered. He got Onnoghen booted out of the Supreme Court. He got his choice candidate to take over from Onnoghen. He probably now has ironclad assurances that his new Supreme Court appointee will sustain his electoral victory if ever Abubakar Atiku’s legal challenge of the victory gets to the Supreme Court.
Politics is contest for power and can be full of duplicitousness any where around the world. But in Nigeria, politics is beyond duplicity. It can be mind boggling in its ruthlessness. It can be very bloody. Poor Onnoghen. The poor man should be left alone to quiet retirement. I am certain though that no matter the current harassment he suffers today, history will vindicate.
•Source: Facebook 

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