The chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, has reacted to the news to his being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) saying he would surrender himself to the anti-graft agency.
According to reports, the CJN, the governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, his predecessor and current minister of solid minerals development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the immediate past minister of finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala were being investigate.
Other high-profile names on the investigation list the EFCC forwarded to the attorney general of the federation (AGF), include wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Dame Patience, immediate past minister of petroleum resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke; the immediate past AGF, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN) and a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed.
Also, the former minister of aviation, Mrs. Stella Oduah, who is currently the Senator representing Anambra North, Mrs. Stella Oduah, former minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, incumbent governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, and his predecessor, Capt. Idris Wada, former governor of Akwa Ibom State and current senate minority leader, Mr. Godswill Akpabio, former governor of Plateau State, Da Jonah Jang, former governor of Borno State, Mr. Ali Modu Sherriff and former governor of Edo State, Mr. Lucky Igbinedion, are said to be under probe.
Equally on the probe list are two former media aides to ex-President Jonathan, Dr. Reuben Abati and Dr. Doyin Okupe, former acting chairman of the PDP, Mr. Uche Secondus; Col. Bello Fadile (retd.), who served under the immediate past national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki, incoming chief judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdu Kafarati, former comptroller-general of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Abdullahi Dikko.
Onnoghen who spoke through his media aide, Mr. Awasam Bassey, said he had nothing to hide adding that his attention was drawn to a media report that he was being investigated by the anti-graft agency “for yet-to-be disclosed reasons”. He said he was “ready to pay the required price to make the nation a better place.”
The CJN said he had never been invited or called upon by the EFCC to offer any explanation on any impropriety stressing that he would however not be distracted in his effort to reform the Judiciary.
“Our attention has been drawn to media reports quoting the EFCC as probing the Hon. CJN, Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, GCON, for yet-to-be disclosed reasons.
“The reports in the media mentioned the reason for the investigation as “intelligence” which for now we take to be abstract.
“However, the Hon. CJN wishes to use this medium to say that it is the first time he is being aware of any allegations or intelligence against him, neither has he been invited or called upon to offer any explanation on any impropriety. “However, the Hon. CJN wishes to assure the public that he has nothing to hide and is open to investigation.
“As a committed patriot who has spent all his adult life in the temple of justice, the Hon. CJN is ready to pay the required price to make the nation a better place. “The commitment of the Hon CJN to the efforts of the current administration to rid the country of corrupt practices is unwavering and he will stop at nothing to see a new dawn in Nigeria’s Judiciary.
“He will also not be distracted in his avowed reformative efforts to make the Nigerian Judiciary a beacon of well-rounded justice which the entire citizenry will be proud of.
“The public is encouraged to keep faith and trust in the present administration’s fight against corruption and be assured that the CJN is doing his best to reform the Judiciary accordingly,” read the statement.
Meanwhile, the EFCC denied that it was probing the CJN describing the report as “diversionary and mischievous.”
In a statement entitled “CJN Not Currently under Investigation” EFCC however admitted that before Onnoghen was made the CJN, some petitions written against him were investigated and found to have been without merit.
While also admitting that it recently forwarded a list of some of high-profile investigations to the AGF, the anti-graft agency said it was “troubling” how such was leaked to the media.
“Much damage has been done to the commission’s investigation activities by this leak,” said EFCC and alleged a deliberate effort to pit it against the judiciary.
“The attention of the EFCC has been drawn to a story entitled, CJN, Okonjo-Iweala, Fayemi, Fayose, Others Under Probe- EFCC, which appeared…today Wednesday September 6, 2017 regarding a list of high profile persons, including the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, minister of solid minerals development, Kayode Fayemi and Justice Abdu Kafarati of the Federal High Court, who are said to be currently under investigation by the Commission.
“It is important to state that this report did not emanate from the EFCC and the allusion to “an EFCC source” is diversionary and mischievous.
“For the avoidance of doubt, cases under investigation communicated to the office of the AGF by the commission are classified information and it is troubling how such would be leaked to the media.
“The mastermind of this leak is out to create disaffection between the commission and, particularly, the Judiciary. The commission wishes to state categorically that it is currently not investigating Justices Onnoghen and Kafarati. “While Onnoghen was being considered for his present position, the commission received some petitions which were investigated and found to be without merit and discarded.
“Indeed, much damage has been done to the commission’s investigation activities by this leak especially as some of the cases mentioned are still at preliminary stages of investigation,” said EFCC in the statement signed by its spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren.