The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has denied in strong terms claims that its Officers arrested the embattled Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen
The 68-year-old Judiciary officer is standing trial, over allegations of fraudulent declaration of assets.
Recall, that President Muhammadu Buhari, on Saturday, reportedly issued an order to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, to immediately vacate his Office, after allegations surfaced on his failure to declare all his assets as required by law, and for operating Domiciliary Foreign Currency Bank Accounts, before assuming duty as the head of the Judiciary branch.
To this end, Onnoghen was summoned to appear before the Danladi Umar-led Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, on Monday, but was absent as his Defence team, led by Wole Olanipekun (SAN), challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter, the case was eventually adjourned to January 22, 2019.
But in a new twist to the unending saga, news of an invasion of Onnoghen’s privacy was made known by former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, on his Twitter page. He asked President Muhammadu Buhari to call off the EFCC Operatives from the CJN residence, writing: “Why have the EFCC surrounded the home of CJN Onnoghen, and why are they seeking to arrest him? These people want Nigeria to burn! Buhari call off your dogs before it is too late! This is a democracy, and not a gestapo State! In the name of God, let this madness stop.”
But in a swift reaction, the anti-graft Commission, said it never extended an invitation for arrest to the CJN, nor was his house invaded, as reported in the Media.
A statement by the Ibrahim Magu-led agency on Tuesday, read:
The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has been drawn to the falsehood which has been spreading on the social media that the EFCC has arrested the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen. This is not only a figment of the imagination of the purveyor of the fake news, but an evil machination by the creator and carriers of the news aimed at creating anarchy in the country.
For the record, the EFCC never went to the house of the CJN for arrest neither was invitation extended to him.
Several calls and short messages received all point to the fact that the brains behind the fake news had one thing in mind: to act as agent of destabilization. We would not give in to their plots.
One of the architect of the fake news, Femi Fani-Kayode, was quoted as saying “Why have the EFCC surrounded the home of CJN Onnoghen and why are they seeking to arrest him? These people want Nigeria to burn! Buhari call off your dogs before it is too late! This is a democracy and not a gestapo state! In the name of God let this madness stop”. Another arrowhead of the fake news, Yinka Odumakin shared a non-existent video which has gone viral.
We want to assure Nigerians that while we would fight corruption in line with the mandate setting up the Commission, agents of darkness, in the likes of Femi Fani-Kayode, Yinka Odumakin and his cohorts, would never be able to manipulate the people against the Commission.
We also want to assure Fani-Kayode, Yinka Odumakin and other purveyors of the evil news to be ready to defend their actions in the court of law as the EFCC will file libel suit against them without further delay.
Meanwhile, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has maintained its stance on the planned arraignment of the CJN by the Buhari-led Federal Government. Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, the party’s spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan slammed the All Progressives Congress, APC, led government, describing the arraignment as an alleged plot by the ruling party to entangle the elections in crisis and pave the way for rigging.
Ologbondiyan alleged, “We are all witnesses to the unrelenting assault on the institution of the judiciary and the courts by the [Muhammadu] Buhari Presidency as well as the APC. This ignoble act is with the view to replace Justice Onnoghen with a pliable CJN that will execute its plot to annex the court and use them to curtail freedom of expression and to silence opposition members as well as perceived opponents of the Buhari administration ahead of the February election.”
The PDP spokesman went on to decry that the nation was gradually sliding into fascism in the face of the recent happenings. He condemned the supposed attempt to stifle the judiciary and erode freedom of speech, as well as encourage massive clampdown on the media and individuals who criticise the government.
According to him, the prevailing state of polity in Nigeria could plunge the country into anarchy if it is allowed to continue. His statement reads: “This siege on the judiciary has now come to a climax with the widely condemned attempt by the Buhari Presidency and the APC to forcefully remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria, (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen. With the prevailing state of our polity; the flagrant violation of our Constitution, continuous attacks on institutions of democracy and principle of separation of powers, consistent abuse of human rights, like the locking up of the opposition members, it is clear and manifestly clear that our nation is on a rapid descent into fascism, which we must all resist with our votes.”