Contrary to the statement credited to the former Chief Judge of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen in one of the national newspapers recently that his offence was not told him by anybody at h is removal, a former governorship candidate in Enugu state, Dr Alexander Chukwuemeka Obiechina has said that the offence of the former CJN was read out to him before the Code of Conduct (CCT) and courts.
In a recent press release he made available to journalists in Abuja Thursday, Obiechina reacted to what he described as a misleading statement credited to the former CJN in a national newspaper. The former CJN was quoted as saying during his 70th birthday celebrations that nobody told him of his offence before his ignominious removal as the CJN.
Throwing more lights on the matter, he asked: “If the former CJN was not told of his offence, what did he go to the CCT to defend? What was he defending then at the High Courts and later Court of Appeal? What were his team of lawyers defending in these courts or were they busybodies?
Dr Obiechina therefore wondered if the former CJN was saying that the rulings and judgements delivered by different courts on the matter were not based on legal facts before the courts, but merely delivered at the figments and inventions of the judges. He therefore added that by implication, as the former High Court judge, Appeal Court judge, Justice of the Supreme Court and CJN, he was testifying to Nigerians and the entire world to lose faith in Nigerian judiciary as judgements obtained in Nigerian courts from his experience were not based on law but on extraneous factors. Was that what you were doing?
Drawing the former CJN’s attention to what transpired when he stood for election in his state, Enugu, he allegedly said: “I won gubernatorial election and as INEC did not do the needful to declare me the governor, I approached the courts for declaration. The governor then, realising that this case will throw him out of office once it is determined in court, resorted to flexing his weighty financial muscles and tentacles to ensure the hearing of the suit was delayed until he left office. And the case was strangely delayed for six years because the courts under your watch did not give us hearing dates for this case.”
He went on: “My counsel, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, wrote you explaining that gubernatorial pre-election cases in courts are not time barred by Nigerian’s 1999 constitution then and all he was seeking was that you list this novel case for hearing and he will lead his team of lawyers, and citing different provisions of our constitution that they shall establish that my case was not time – barred and that I was the elected governor with no legal inhibitions to stop me from serving my four years from any date the court declares me the winner.
“You neither obliged him this request bordering on fair hearing of this case nor accorded such a legal icon a courtesy of reply. All you rather did was to rush to Supreme Court as CJN and chairman of the adjudicating panel and tried prompting my lawyer, Chief Udechukwu SAN, representing Prof Ben Nwabueze, to toe a particular legal line and as you tried it twice, he retorted to you there at the open court.”
Still narrating his ordeal, the former governorship candidate therefore said his counsel asked the CJN, if he had taken decision on the case outside the court. “If you have taken decision on this case, please tell me so that I pack my bags and go because I am a senior member of the temple of justice and my case ought to be treated with some sanity or fairness and I can never be coerced to a strange legal path,” my lawyer requested.
Obiechina therefore said after the request, the CJN sounded a warning to his counsel which according to him made the SAN to leave the court. Be however informed that the CJN had to strike out the case and told him (Obiechina) to report to God if he weren’t satisfied, adding that he did so and left the Supreme Court.
“I immediately reported CJN to God who I serve, left the Supreme Court room and immediately granted press interview where I said I have reported our actions to God Almighty, praying Him to disgrace you out of the Supreme Court. This was again published then,” he stated.