All Progressives Congress National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, has said that since the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, is not a trader, he shouldn’t be maintaining bank accounts denominated in foreign currencies such as pound sterling, dollars and euros.
He warned that Nigeria is no longer a colony to any super power or answerable to the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union on how the country runs its internal affairs as a sovereign nation
He argued that much as Nigeria welcomed friendships and suggestions from outsiders, they were not binding, adding that Nigeria would also not succumb to pressure to offend its internal laws.
The APC national chairman was reacting to the reservations expressed by the UK, the US governments and the EU over the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Oshiomhole spoke on Monday night in Abuja shortly after a meeting between Buhari and APC senators ended at the Presidential Villa.
Speaking with State House correspondents, Oshiomhole noted, “The thing is that Nigeria is not a colony. I think we all have to be careful. We must defend the sovereignty of our country.
“We welcome collaboration, we welcome peer review, we can compare notes, we welcome people who are interested in sharing experiences with us whenever the need arises, whether it is capacity building, or making useful suggestions on how we can continue to improve on our electoral process.
“Those are very valuable contributions that we appreciate. But Nigeria is not a colony. We will not accept any foreign interference in the internal affairs of Nigeria.
“Judges have been dismissed in the United States when they are found guilty of corruption.
“The Western world cannot, on the one hand, when it suits them, describe Nigeria as fantastically corrupt and when a corrupt judicial officer is being charged, people want to interfere.
“What anybody can insist on is, ‘Is anybody being framed?’ ‘Is the suspended CJN guilty of the allegations made against him?’ ‘Or is it something being cooked out from nowhere?’”
Oshiomhole argued further that Onnoghen admitted to have committed the alleged infractions he was accused of by the Code of Conduct Bureau.
He added, “Now, if a Chief Justice of the Federation admits that he has breached the law, if a CJN admits that he has several foreign domiciliary accounts, even though he also admits that by nature of his office, he is not a trader, what is he doing with accounts in British Pounds, US Dollars and in Euros and to the extent of forgetting that he has those accounts?
“If he has such memory failure about the size of his number of accounts as to fail to declare them, you and I know that not even ignorance is an excuse in law. So, where are we being hypocritical?
“And at a certain level of responsibility, it’s not even about legal technicalities. It’s about the moral weight, the moral burden you carry.
“So, nobody should make us feel as though we are at the mercy of any other country.
“The future of Nigeria is in the hands of Nigerians and our laws clear. Our laws are meant to be obeyed.
“If Nigerians thought that anybody other than the president and the vice president or a governor and deputy governor have immunity, it should have been so written into the constitution.
“I don’t understand what the noise is about. Some people say even if it is true, is this the proper timing? What is the best timing to prosecute a crime? Should we suspend criminal justice pending elections?
“Then, some people say you know, because of the very unique role or rather, very delicate role the judiciary has to play in settling elections issues, that is the more reason that people are worried about the timing.
“My question is, given that important role of the judiciary in times like this, is that the reason why you should allow a judge who has professed for breaching laws of the land, is that the reason to allow him to preside, to adjudicate over issues that have to do with fairness and justice?”
Recall that in a statement last week after Onnoghen’s suspension, the Embassy of the US had said that the US “deeply concerned by the impact of the executive branch’s decision to suspend and replace the Chief Justice and head of the judicial branch without the support of the legislative branch on the eve of national and state elections.”
The UK and the EU expressed similar concerns.
Oshiomhole also spoke on the purpose of the late-night meeting, saying, “The Secretary to the Government of Federation, Boss Mustapha, senatorial candidates of the APC, serving senators were led by the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, to the meeting.
“Basically, the meeting was for the President to meet with the caucus of the Senate and the APC senatorial candidates.
“The whole idea is for the President to have a direct interaction with the senators and the senatorial candidates of the APC. So, that they will work hard and ensure that on the basis of one-man, one-vote, the outcome of the 2019 elections will be in our favour.”