CCT verdict: Onnoghen saw it coming

CCT verdict: Onnoghen saw it coming

On that fateful day when the former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen appeared before the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), whatever evidence presented must have signalled a gloomy future for him.

A future of being the first CJN to be convicted and stripped of all honours pending the outcome of his appeal, no less.

Onnoghen was called to the Bar in 1978 before attaining the highest judicial position in the country.

This has seen a lot of people express  scepticism of his claims that he forgot to declare his assets.

However, as the archetypal Nigerian, he refused to do the honourable thing – resign – with the thought that the passage of time will make the issue blow over.

Also Read: Reasons to be cheerful – for the time being

There are lessons to be taken from this whole saga.

First, the judiciary has the biggest responsibility for the whole furore.

This was a case where a strong precedent could have been laid with the NJC serving as the disciplinary board but due to reasons unknown, the body was reticent to act until President Muhammadu Buhari intervened in a manner some analysts still refer to as ‘unconstitutional’.

With the fall of Onnoghen, the judiciary must spearhead an internal purge but the question remains: who will be at the forefront of this cleansing?

How are we so sure he won’t be another ‘Onnoghen’?

After all,  the appointment of Onnoghen was greeted with huge optimism and he was hailed as some sort of reformer, before his change of fortunes.

Also, the Executive cannot claim to be without blemish in this debacle.

The CJN was nominated by the President with the assumption that a thorough vetting was done by the Department of State Services before his appointment.

This scandal also puts the Nigerian Bar Association in a very difficult situation.

The NBA ought to be that body whose opinion on legal and constitutional matters should be indisputable but the reaction of the body through Paul Uzoro who is also facing charges of corruption was disappointing.

The pronouncement and action of the men who are supposed to be the custodian of knowledge as far as the law is concerned appear not to be of ignorance but “brotherly solidarity.”

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) should also pick valuable lessons from this situation.

The party seems bent on just criticizing for the sake of it without really considering the import of its actions on the polity.

This is a sad moment for Nigeria.

More worrisome is that this trial brought to the fore things we knew, but too sceptical to believe.

Our judiciary is governed by the law of demand and supply where the price is the king, but in the capital of extreme poverty, very few can participate which makes the judiciary not the last hope for the common man, but the rich’s poker table.

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A writer with a keen interest in human stories and topical issues around the world. [email protected]

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