Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has denied that his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari pre-arranged the trial of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen before the Code of Conduct Tribunal for non declaration of assets.
According to the Vice President: “It is highly regrettable that his senior colleague, the CJN has to go through this process.
He, however, admitted that Buhari had issued specific instructions that anti-graft institutions be allowed to do their job without any interference.
Osinbajo gave this account on Wednesday, at a one day conference organised by Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPAN) with the theme: Free Press and Objective Reporting in the 2019 Election Year.
His words, “I must tell you in clear terms that President Muhammadu Buhari, his whole approach is that institutions should just do their work, I can tell you for a fact that he did not even know about this until Saturday evening.
“He did not even know that there was going to be any kind of trial until Saturday evening, he has said categorically don’t interfere with whatever institutions are doing, sometimes it has consequences such as we have today, such that people say how can such an important person be subjected to trial without the Federal Government but I can tell you without any equivocation that he is not aware.”
Justice Onnoghen is facing trail over non declaration of assets with the Code of Conduct Bureau.
He also said President Muhammadu Buhari did not know about the plan to arraign the CJN until Saturday evening. According to him, the President had always made clear that institutions should not be interfered with.
Osinbanjo said this on Wednesday at the opening of the Online Publishers Conference in Abuja. He added that he is sad about the turn of events and regrets the current situation where a senior member of his profession is subjected to such judicial process.
“I feel very sad that is going on at all.
“President Muhammadu Buhari, his whole approach is that institutions should just do their work. I can tell by fact that he did not know about this until Saturday evening.
“He did not know that there will be any kind of arraignment until Saturday evening. He has said categorically don’t interfere with what the institutions are doing. Sometimes it has consequences like we have today.
“My take is that I rather not have a situation where members of a profession are being tried for an offence. I don’t feel particularly good about it, as a matter of fact, I feel very sad about it, that is going on at all,” he said.
Justice Onnoghen is facing six charges bordering on failure to declare his assets and operating a domiciliary account, among other charges.
The charges against him are based on a petition signed by the executive secretary of the anti-corruption research data based initiative, Dennis Aghanya.
The petition alleges amongst others things that the CJN failed to declare ownership of sundry accounts funded through cash deposits made by himself up to August 10, 2016.