By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata post) – A civil society organisation, the Integrity Group has accused the Chief Justice Of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen of abuse of office and called on him to resign within 14 days.
The group further alleged that Onnoghen has compromised judicial proceedings in a deliberate bid to subvert justice; open show of political partisanship and open resistance to probity/complicity with Rivers State government to execute judges’ quarters project not captured in any accessible budget.”
In a letter dated August 24, 2017, addressed to the Chairman, National Judicial Council (NJC) and Chief Justice of Nigeria, signed by the group’s Executive Director, Livingstone Wechie, it recalled that the Integrity Group had earlier written an open letter dated July 24, 2017.
The petition further read: “In the said letter of protestation attached herewith, we raised a red flag advising the Honorable CJN to stay away from his planned visit to Rivers State to flag off the construction of Judges’ quarters. The major ground for the protest was the fact that the said project which the CJN was billed to flag off was not captured in any accessible or available budget of Rivers State. It is no secret that the Rivers State Governor, His Excellency, Nyesom E. Wike had made the state budget a secret document. We had considered it an act of extreme corruption which the CJN should not legitimise through his flag-off of same so as not to give it a judicial seal of approval.
“In the said letter, as part of our citizenship responsibility and in keeping with the CJN’s obligation to promote transparency and probity in governance and to shun corrupt practices, a caution was made very respectfully and responsibly to the CJN that the Governor of Rivers State was setting a trap to implicate the CJN and the benefitting Judges through this Greek gift that was founded on corruption. A further caution was raised that should the CJN proceed to flag off the said Judges’ quarters project in Port Harcourt, he would have knowingly and wittingly participated in the act of corruption by refusing to demand for the Rivers State budget and also to see evidence of full and substantial compliance to the Rivers State Procurement Law with respect to the said project.
“Incidentally, your Lordship threw caution to the winds with impunity and turned a blind eye to these demands and delightfully conspired with the Rivers State Governor and his secretive government to rape Rivers peoples of tax-payers’ monies without account, thus judicially legitimising corruption without remorse. Today the CJN has flagged off a project for the building of Judges’ Quarters, for the oracles of justice to reside in property not captured in any known budget and for which the contract was brazenly awarded without recourse to due process, especially the State Procurement law.
“To further justify the July 24, 2017 letter which was both submitted to you with an acknowledgment copy and also published on page 44 of The Nation newspaper of July 26, 2017 both of which are attached herewith, a Caveat Emptor/Public Notice attached herewith was advertised/published on Page 12 of THISDAY Newspaper of Friday August 4, 2017 signed by Mr. Olasupo Shasore SAN, the lead Counsel to Total E&P Nigeria Closed Pension Funds Administrators Ltd, wherein it stated that the said asset (Private Property) being the piece of land on which the Judges’ Quarters which the CJN flagged off is to be built is owned by his Clients and that same land/property is a subject of pending litigation… The Caveat Emptor further stated that the said flagoff took place in the said land measuring approximately 10.101 acres (“the Property”) ‘DESPITE THE PENDENCY OF A CONSENT ORDER OF INJUNCTION’.
“The issues that now begs for the attention of your Lordship and the number one citizen in our judicial hierarchy are these:
“Whether you, My Lord the Honorable the CJN, Hon. Justice Walter S. N. Onnoghen who ought to know better can successfully feign ignorance of the said litigation as well as the consent order of injunction knowing that the matter in Court is an issue within your constituency (JUDICIARY/COURT) as an interested party. His Lordship the presiding Judge in the suit, like you My Lord the CJN also participated in the flag-off exercise and stands to benefit in the illegal development by the State government. My Lord, the Honorable the CJN you have created the perfect legal conundrum.
“In our humble view, Your Lordship has committed gross misconduct for which you must honorably resign from your exalted office.
“Given the gross misconduct of the CJN, whether the CJN has the moral and legal right and the needed integrity to continue in office in his current capacity in line with relevant statutes and ethics of conduct for Justices and judicial officers as well as public servants?
“The construction of permanent residential accommodation is not reflected in any known and verifiable Rivers State Budget for the year 2017 or if by any chance it is captured, it is not known by the people of Rivers State since the Budget has remained the private document of His Excellency, the Executive Governor, YET, DESPITE THE ALARM AND NOTICE, YOU MY LORD THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF NIGERIA DELIGHTFULLY WENT AHEAD TO FLAG OFF THE PROJECT.
“No tenders have been published and none of the Public Procurement prerequisites as required by the extant laws in Rivers State have been adhered to before the proposed expenditure of what we are sure will run into billions of Naira, YET, DESPITE THE ALARM AND NOTICE, YOU MY LORD THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF NIGERIA DELIGHTFULLY WENT AHEAD TO FLAG OFF THE PROJECT.
“It is now clear that the said property is in litigation yet, YOU, MY LORD THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF NIGERIA WHO OUGHT TO KNOW BETTER DELIGHTFULLY WENT AHEAD TO FLAG OFF THE PROJECT DOUBTLESSLY TO PREEMPT THE COURT TO SUBVERT JUSTICE IN THE COURT PROCESS, DUE TO POSSIBLE INDUCEMENT AND COMPROMISE.
“Thus, now that the most eminent and erudite CJN has SUBSCRIBED to this illegality dancing over the faces of Rivers people and indeed Nigerians by authorising the commission of illegality with the building of judicial quarters with tax payers monies which are unaccounted for on a property in litigation, IT IS OUR DEMAND THAT THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF NIGERIA, HON. JUSTICE WALTER S. N. ONNOGHEN GCON SHOULD HONOURABLY RESIGN WITHOUT ANY FURTHER DELAY AND TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS ACTIONS OF CORRUPTION WHILE THE NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL (CJN) SHOULD TAKE NECESSARY STEPS TO FURTHER INVESTIGATE AND PENALISE THE CJN ACCORDINGLY TO GUARANTEE THE INTEGRITY OF THE BENCH WHICH HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO DISREPUTE AND ODIOM.
“Obviously you, my Lord the CJN has conducted yourself in a manner in breach of your oath of office, that endangers not only the foundation of justice in Nigeria, he has also justified the fears most Nigerians had over his integrity following his nomination for appointment in his present capacity, as well as his open political showmanship and patronage which is unsafe for the present and coming political future of Nigerians and the quest for justice by innocent Nigerians who cannot buy justice with money to impress our CJN.
“May it also be placed for the records and due consideration that by your actions and conduct along with other participating judges, all the Judges in Rivers state and the yourself My Lord have taken sides in the matter in Court and gone ahead to sumptuously benefit from same and this is absolutely unjust and unrighteously vexatious.
“Should you, my Lord the CJN fail or neglect or refuse to resign within fourteen (14) days from the date of this letter, we shall be calling on the Senate to do the needful and act with patriotism by initiating the process to dismiss him from office.(News Express).