My unconstitutional removal as CJN shows Nigeria’s judiciary on life support -Onnoghen

FORMER chief justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Samuel Onnoghen has said that his unconstitutional removal in the lead-up to the 2019 general election is a testament that the country’s judiciary is on life support. 

Onnoghen said this during the unveiling of a book “Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009,’ written by Ogwu James Onoja (SAN) on Friday.

He said he was removed basically because it was rumoured that he held a meeting with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the 2019 election Atiku Abubakar.


Read Also:


He noted that rule of law was the foundation of democracy, and a country without the rule of law directly practised dictatorship. The jurist urged judges to ensure strict compliance with the rule of law.

Speaking on his removal, he noted that even as a CJN, he was not given an opportunity to be heard during the unfortunate incident.

“I have never met Atiku in my life, but unfortunately as a CJN, I was never given an opportunity to even defend myself. It is only the rule of law that can guarantee the rights and privileges of minority tribes from oppression and domination by majority tribes in a country like ours,” he said.

“Once a serving CJN, who is the head of the judiciary and symbol of that arm of government, can be removed unconstitutionally and without him being given the basic right to defend himself, whether successfully or unsuccessfully, the justice system cannot but be on life support.”

“The ultimate cowardice exhibited is that the National Judicial Commission (NJC) has, two years after, not summoned the courage to release its own findings.”

“It is unfortunate that the ruling party thinks they have the right to be served justice at all costs without recourse to what the law says,”  he said, while encouraging other judges and legal practitioners not be discouraged by the way he was treated.




    He further said that the nation would be doomed without rule of law and enforcement of fundamental rights.

    “ You can’t shave my head in my absence, it’s against natural justice and common sense,” he added.

    This was the first time the former CJN would be speaking publicly since his removal from office in 2019.

    The Code of Conduct Tribunal found the former CJN guilty of false declaration of assets and also barred him from holding any public office for 10 years.

    You can reach out to me on Twitter via: vincent_ufuoma

    Join the ICIR WhatsApp channel for in-depth reports on the economy, politics and governance, and investigative reports.

    Support the ICIR

    We invite you to support us to continue the work we do.

    Your support will strengthen journalism in Nigeria and help sustain our democracy.

    If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

    LEAVE A REPLY

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here


    Support the ICIR

    We need your support to produce excellent journalism at all times.

    - Advertisement

    Recent