- More than 1,000 youth groups in Abuja on Tuesday, January 29, lent their support to President Muhammadu Buhari for suspending Justice Walter Onnoghen
- After their meeting in Abuja, the groups insisted that Onnoghen must declare his assets publicly to clear his name
- They added that those who are using the ex-CJN's suspension for electoral campaigns are enemies of the nation
There seems to be more trouble for the former chief justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, as over 1,000 youth groups in Nigeria on Wednesday, January 30, at a meeting in Abuja, resolved to support President Muhammadu Buhari's decision.
After its emergency meeting in Abuja, the groups cautioned that those who intend to trigger crisis over the suspension of Justice Onnoghen should stay away.
The statement which was jointly signed by Comrade Olajide Kolawole, chairman of the communique drafting committee and comrade Aaron Tobias Turner, reads: "There has been deliberate mischief by those that allude a finality to the “SUSPENSION” of Justice Onnoghen, which connotes temporariness as opposed to an outright sack or removal.
"This deliberate act of mischief, we have found out, is being sponsored by the suspended CJN in the belief that he can force his reinstatement through this.
"The offence of failure to properly declare his assets including the secret bank accounts and operating foreign accounts in contravention of the law are now being overshadowed by the unnecessary drama that have been whipped up by his supporters. The duplicity of using the elections as blackmail has not obliterated the fact that Justice Onnoghen violated the law and this in spite of his untenable defence of mistake and forgetfulness.
"The composition of those speaking in defence of Onnoghen is suspect. Those canvassing for his reinstatement are clearly people that stand to benefit from his continued stay in office. They include leading opposition figures, the same people that have been accused of bribing him with the money found in his undeclared bank accounts. His support base include militants and separatist terrorists with members standing trial.
"Like the opposition politicians, their members could be handed death sentence, they have cases that would be appealed up to the Supreme Court. The nature of those that have spoken in favour of Justice Onnoghen therefore constitute a fresh crisis of interest for him.
"Justice Onnoghen supporters have recruited foreign interests and other countries to undermine Nigeria’s sovereignty in an attempt to block the country’s ability to fight corruption. The opposition and their civil society arm are now creating a precedence where Nigeria must get the approval of the United States, United Kingdom, the European Union and just any other western country before taking any action in furtherance of citizens’ interest.
"The National Assembly, which has never been known to serve the interest of Nigerian, led by some of the people that paid money into the undeclared bank accounts of the suspended CJN, is threatening to counter what its members’ constituents have endorsed as the right decision. This attitude of clearly favouring Justice Onnoghen, who has been indicted of accepting bribes to pervert justice for the leadership of the National Assembly.
"The Presidency has remained unnecessarily civil, tamed and excessively considerate in responding to those that are using Justice Onnoghen’s suspension as basis to foment trouble. Its response to foreign interference in Nigeria’s internal affairs on this matter could also me more engaging. There is no record anywhere of Nigeria asking any of these countries to retain a compromised Chief Justices to preside over their own judiciaries.
"To endorse the suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen and the swearing-in of Justice Mohammed as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria. Member organizations will take imperative actions to ensure this decision taken in favour of the anti-corruption war will not be truncated.
"Warn those that have been recruited to foment trouble over the suspension of Justice Onnoghen that the law remains the law and it is not in their interest to be caught breaking the law, especially when this is done in pursuit of defending another violation of the law.
"Appeal to security agencies to note individuals, associations and organizations that have been making threats of violence in respect to the suspension of Justice Onnoghen; the security agencies should be on alert to counter the violent protests the identified entities have planned to rocked the country but this should be done within acceptable civil limits.
"Advice the US, UK and EU to find other past-times to engage themselves with since it is not possible for their own citizens to accept what they are asking Nigeria to accept. The mandate Nigerians gave when they elect a government is for that government to take decisions that protect their interest, corruption of highly placed office holders is one the pressing issues the government has their mandate to tackle.
"Urge the Federal Government to be more robust in engaging countries that interfere with the running of Nigeria. The Presidency should immediately convene a forum at which it will place the facts around Justice Onnoghen’s suspension before senior officials of these interfering countries.
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"Request the relevant authorities to publish a compendium of the infractions committed by Justice Onnoghen to educate Nigerians on the gravity of what he has been charged with.
"Place member organizations on notice to hold two street rallies for every pro-Onnoghen protest that takes place anywhere in Nigeria.
"Occupy the National Assembly should lawmakers go ahead with the sessions they plan to convene to challenge Justice Onnoghen’s suspension.
"The meeting concluded with a directive to member organizations to begin mobilizing against the election or re-election of any politician known to be supporting Justice Onnoghen or to have bribed him in the past. The recruitment of other countries by the opposition to dictate to Nigeria should not be a basis to reinstate corruption that the country is already on the way to winning."
Meanwhile, Legit.ng reported that presidential candidates under the umbrella of Forum of Presidential Candidates and Political Parties for Good Governance (FPCPPGG) had backed the suspension of Onnoghen by the president.
Alhaji Mohammed Shittu, the chairman of the group, at a news conference on Monday, January 28, in Abuja, said Buhari's action was proper and timely.
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