Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof Itse Sagay (SAN) has reacted to the allegation of non-declaration of asset levelled against the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen.
Recall that the petition was first written to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by the Anti-Corruption and Research Based Date Initiative (ARDI). The CCB, thereafter acted on it by writing a petition to the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.
The arraignment of the CJN before the CCT has however been condemned by many to include the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA.
Sagay, in a statement, knocked Onnoghen for insisting that he be tried by the National Judicial Council (NJC) and not the CCT, stating that he is not above the law.
He said, “We’re talking of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, head of a branch of government; in fact I’ll say head of the most important branch of the government, because they’re the arbiters of anything that goes wrong in the other two arms.
“It is said that Julius Ceasar’s wife must be above board. If I’m the Chief Justice, even a judge, and you bring such a charge against me, I will not contest jurisdiction. If I contest jurisdiction and win, you’re still going to say: ‘But you did it’.
“Rather, I’ll waive the issue of jurisdiction, because my status is so high that I must have a clean image before the world, so that the institution I represent may not be tainted.
“Those hiding behind jurisdiction are trying to cover up iniquities of some sort. I’m speaking generally now.
“Those who are bringing that issue up are creating a problem for this country, because the sore will still be there. It’s as if they’re saying no doctor should treat it.
“Those cases that went on for 12 years were because of the issue of jurisdiction – all the looters’ cases. It’s jurisdiction that was argued from High Court to Supreme Court and back. The issue of bleeding this country to death through corruption was never touched.
“I think at the level of the officer we’re talking about now, we shouldn’t be talking of jurisdiction. We should be talking of the substance. Did he or did he not do it? That’s all.”
Meanwhile, Onnoghen, who was absent at the tribunal today, was represented by about 45 Senior Advocates of Nigeria.
His trial was adjourned till Tuesday, January 22.