The immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen said on Friday that President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to remove him from office was founded on baseless rumour that he held meeting with ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar in Dubai before the last general elections.
Justice Onnoghen, who spoke on the issue publicly for the first time since his removal from office in 2019, expressed disappointment that despite its huge investigative capacities, the Presidency failed to first authenticate the rumour, but chose to act on it all the same.
He said although the rumour was brought to his attention before his removal, he chose not to address it because he never met with Atiku in Dubai and has never encountered the ex-Vice President in person all his life.
The ex-CJN spoke in Abuja at the public presentation of a book titled: “Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009: Practice, procedure, forms and precedents,” authored by Ogwu James Onoja (SAN).
Onnoghen, who recalled the process leading to his removal, noted that the situation got to its head when all of a sudden, his trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) was put in motion even when he had not been invited or accused of any wrongdoing.
The ex-CJN, who faulted his trial process before the CCT, noted that, in the course of the trial, and when parties had joined issues, an ex-parte application was suddenly brought in, and “what followed was my illegal and unlawful suspension as the CJN.”