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Buhari removed me from office over ‘mere rumour’ – former CJN, Onnoghen

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Former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen said, he was sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari over mere rumour that he had meeting with the former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Onnoghen broke silence on Friday at a book launch in Abuja, stating that his exit from office was unceremonious.

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He said, Buhari wanted him out of office before general election in 2019, but had nothing to accuse him, only to pick rumour of something that never happened.

The former CJN explained that he was rumoured to have met Atiku in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, preparatory to the 2019 general election, which noted that he has never met Atiku Abubakar one on one in his life.

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The event which Onnoghen used as an opportunity to open up was the public presentation of a book titled, ‘Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009, Practice, Procedure, Forms, and Precedents’, written by a renowned legal practitioner, Chief Ogwu James Onoja (SAN). adsbygoogle || []).push({});

The rumour which went viral, he said was not true, regretting that government has all it takes, to investigate, which it never did, than to illegally remove him from office.

Onnoghen said that the situation got to the peak when all of a sudden, his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal was arranged, even when he had not been invited or accused of any wrongdoing.

He said that the action of the government against him further got to the peak when in the course of the trial and when parties had joined issues, an ex-parte application was suddenly brought in, and what followed was his illegal and unlawful suspension as the CJN.

“Prior to my suspension, I was confronted with no allegation. There were rumours that I met with Atiku in Dubai. As I am talking here today, I have never met Atiku one on one in my life. As if that was not enough, I was also accused of setting free, high-profile criminals, whereas I ceased to be a High Court Judge as far back as 1978.

“In the Supreme Court, I did not sit alone. we sit in a panel. In all these rumours and outright accusations, I was not given an opportunity to defend myself.

“Let me make it clear that the office of the CJN was not for Onnoghen but for all Nigerians who had sworn to guide and protect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“To say the least, the period of my ordeal was the darkest era in the history of the Nigerian judiciary

He urged judicial officers to be courageous while discharging their statutory duties, saying that they should not use the misfortune that befell him from the executive to compromise their stands.

“Emerging Nigerian Judges should not go the direction of injustice because, without courageous judges and justice, Nigeria is doomed.

“Here, let me sound this note of warning that the appointment of judicial officers must never be allowed to be politicized, otherwise, democracy and democratic governance will be dead.

“During my tenure, the problem of Nigeria was not the Nigerian judiciary, but those who had no regard for the rule of law. We must therefore be committed to the rule of law and dispense justice without fear or favour. Truth stands, crush it, it will stand because it is truth.”

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