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In Walter Onnoghen Nigerian Judiciary Died

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Chidiebere Nwobodo

The nation’s judiciary has been plagued with terminal and cancerous diseases of nepotism, corruption and injustice. The Bench and Bar managed to provide analgesics that sustained beleaguered and afflicted Nigerian judicial system, irrespective of the social and ethical ills bedeviling it, until recently, when it was murdered by ethno-religious Nazist cabal operating from the Villa, in conjunction with ethno-supremacists in the judiciary known as Bauchi mafia. The custodian of justice was crushed by rampaging chariots of tyranny embroidered with injustice. In Walter Nkanu Onnoghen the judiciary died. Rule of law has fled the shores of the country—that has degenerated into full blown dictatorship.

I weep for my country. Finally judicial independence has been truncated; the despotic forces have succeeded in annexing the judiciary. Today is a sad day in Nigeria’s democracy—for those who understand the implications of humiliating CJN Walter Onnoghen out of office. Democracy is no longer under trial, it has been given jungle justice and summarily executed by those who supposed to defend it. Justice Walter Onnoghen was framed up with trump-up charges; tried and convicted in the media, hauled to court like a common criminal, subjected to psychological torture, and subsequently stampeded out of office even before the conclusion of the so-called trial at the CCT. Justice left the judiciary today not Onnoghen as a person. NJC’s irrational decision colored with ethno-religious supremacist agenda became the last straw that broke the independence of the judiciary.

Onnoghen’s offenses are two—his minority tribal status and uncompromising stand in defending the rule of law. He was crashed from the zenith of his career to nadir of disgrace, simply because he is from a supposedly conquered region dominated by third class citizens—as perceived by his adversaries. Ironically this is the region that lay the golden eggs of the nation. That Onnoghen was the first CJN of Southern extraction in the last 30 years exposed ethnic conspiracy that torpedoed his career as CJN. If Chief Justice of Nigeria could not find justice in a system he staked his over thirty years of his life, reputation and freedom to preserve, who else will find. If the Bar and the Bench could not protect the symbol of the nation’s judiciary, who again will get justice in post-Onnoghen judiciary?

When the ethno-supremacist cabal in the Villa wanted to use Ali Modu Sheriff to destabilize opposition by destroying the PDP through legal landmines, the temple of justice as represented by the Supreme Court under the watch of Justice Walter Onnoghen as CJN, stood firm and upheld the dictates of the Constitution. And the PDP survived—opposition was resuscitated. In the quest for absolute power which embodies tyranny, the vicious cabal went for the jugular of the legislative arm through the unprovoked trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki, it was the same Supreme Court under Onnoghen that nailed that anti-democratic plot to rest.

Unfortunately and disappointedly, when the forces of autocracy in this government marked Justice Walter Onnoghen for humiliation and subsequent extermination of his glorious career, Onnoghen was left in the cold to bear the brunt of totalitarianism alone. He was left armless and defenseless to fight against herd of cannibals that made up their minds to devour him alive. While the Bench conspired against him via CCT and Appeal Court, the Bar abandoned him to his fate. As the web of conspiracies and persecution thickened against him, National Assembly could not reciprocate the gesture to save our judiciary. When it tried sticking out its neck, but chickened out at the eleventh hour because of political exigencies.

The naivety displayed by the PDP while Justice Walter Onnoghen was clutching to claws and fighting for survival, beats my imagination. The party was no where to be found while the fierce war for judicial independence raged. It buried its docile head in the sand of cluelessness like a hopeless ostrich. The PDP gullibly saw invasion of the judiciary as Onnoghen’s battle in particular—judiciary by extension, thereby maintained aloofness and indifference attitude. What the party failed to see was that the hungry buffalo that struggled to breakthrough the barn’s woody door, has no business with the rickety door in the first place, only that it temporarily stopped the rampaging buffalo from accessing the farm produce which the yams represents.

Imagine what happens when Chief Judge of Federal High, President of Appeal Court and Chief Justice of Nigeria—who are all from the core Muslim north, are summoned to the Villa to determine a court case even before it will be filled at the lowest court? This is the quagmire the nation’s democracy has found itself. In Onnoghen our judiciary died. Political court cases will be determined more on the table of the cabal than sacred temple of justice as symbolized by the courts. Justice Walter Onnoghen is not the loser but justice itself. The PDP will understand fully the consequences of this judicial annihilation when election petitions tribunal starts releasing its judgments.

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