Law

Onnoghen’s Trial: Nigerians Must Fight Corruption At All Levels- BMO

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The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has said that Nigerians must unite and decisively take a stand against corruption, no matter who is involved.

The group stated this in a statement signed by its Chairman, Mr Niyi Akinsiju and Mr Cassidy Madueke, its Secretary, on Wednesday in Abuja.

The statement was in reaction to comments over the recent arraignment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

Onnoghen is being arraigned before the CCT for failing to declare his asset; the case comes up for hearing on Jan. 22.

The BMO noted that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is undeterred in its resolve to fight corruption at all levels of government, regardless of the position of the person, or sentiments attached.

“We are aware of the sentiments from various quartres on the arraignment of the CJN, but we are equally worried that there is a mindset in the country that sets certain people to be special.

“The Chief Justice of the federation leads Nigerian’s third arm of government responsible for the application of the law.

“He of all people, must lead by example, and thus, where there is suspicion as to his conduct, it is only right that the law take its course,“ the group said.

It reminded Nigerians that the Chief Justice is the same person who called on Nigerians to speak against corruption among Judges where such is noticed.

It maintained that as long as the CJN has nothing to hide, the law should be allowed to take its course, saying that this should be the mindset of Nigerians.

“In fact, Justice Onnoghen is reported to have admitted to have forgotten to declare some of his assets, adding that he made a mistake.

“That is embarrassing, to say the least, a man who should know better than any law officer in the country, should appreciate that ignorance is not an excuse in law,“ the group said.

It argued that in saner climes, a Chief Justice of the country who had previously sat and oversaw cases of other public officials where they failed to declare their assets, would have resigned honourably so as not to shame his exalted seat.

The BMO recalled that Onnoghen had sat on cases bearing on the declaration of assets by public officials, and had declared some wanting and set others free, like he did to the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki.

It added that there is nothing wrong if the CJN subjects himself to the same procedure he had subjected others to.

“Moreover, for the sanctity of the profession and the respect for the judiciary, we will have expected that the Chief Justice step down,“ it said.

This, the group said is especially critical after he admitted to making such a profound mistake that casts doubt on his integrity and honesty.

The group stated that the Buhari administration is intent and determined to build stronger institutions and would not interfere in the matter.

It maintained that contrary to insinuations, Buhari did not have a hand in the matter, and would not ask that it should be withdrawn, neither would he endorse it.

According to the BMO, Buhari believes that when institutions are tested and left to work independently, they are strengthened.

It recalled that Buhari, every time he loses an election before his eventual victory in 2015, submits himself to the courts and whatever was decided.

The group, however, called on Nigerians to attune their minds to supporting the President’s anti-corruption war, and support institutions that were set up to purge the country of corruption in any form, especially in the public life.

“Nigerians must not look at the anti-corruption fight from a partisan point of view but from one that seeks national development and restoring sanity to the country.

“Buhari has the political will to fight corruption and must be given all necessary support.

“He is the only president who has taken on the three arms of government where corruption was alleged, including the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) who was not spared,“ it said.

The BMO noted that the SGF, Babachair Lawal is still being investigated upon by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over corruption charges.

It further noted that the fact that top Nigerians were being investigated and prosecuted, showed that the Buhari administration was not sparing anyone, whether in high or in low places.(NAN)

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