The Federal Government on Monday defended President Muhammadu Buhari for suspending the Chief Justice, Walter Onnoghen.
It alleged that the case against Onnoghen was much more than misconduct, adding that there were suspicious transactions running into millions of dollars which it said were traced into the suspended CJN’s personal accounts.
It said these were all undeclared or improperly declared as required by law.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohamed, stated this at a press briefing in Abuja on Monday.
Mohamed said, “Some have argued that the Justice Onnoghen issue should have been referred to the NJC to handle. They would have been right if Justice Onnoghen had been accused of professional misconduct, which is what is within the purview of the NJC.
“The allegations against Justice Onnoghen go beyond professional misconduct. It is the alleged breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers. And only one body is statutorily empowered to deal with this: the Code of Conduct Tribunal.”
Mohammed added, ‘’This whole issue is about the country’s highest judicial officer, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, being accused of a breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, and the legal and moral conundrum surrounding that.
“‘It is about the suspicious transactions running into millions of dollars to the suspended CJN’s personal accounts, all undeclared or improperly declared as required by law.
“It is about the Hon. Justice Onnoghen himself admitting to the charges that he indeed failed to follow the spirit and letter of the law in declaring his assets, calling it a ‘mistake.’
“And it is about him refusing to take responsibility, instead opting to put the entire judiciary on trial.
“Please remember that Justice Onnoghen has been given the opportunity of fair hearing, but he has been abusing his position and the judicial process by filing frivolous applications and even dodging service of process.”
Mohammed said the media did not get it right by its reportage of the events, saying a section of the media had taken sides in the matter.
Asked why the Federal Government was quick to act on the order of the CCT but neglected judgements on the detained former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki(retd.), the minister said he was not conversant with the case.