Olusegun Obasanjo, former president, has tackled Yemi Osinbajo, vice president, over his claim on the controversial trial of Walter Onnoghen, Nigeria’s Chief Justice.
Mr Onnoghen accused of failing to declare some assets traced to him was hurriedly arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on behalf of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The speed at which the case was rushed trumped up suspicions in some quarters alleging the administration is out to oust the top jurist in preparation of plans to rig the 2019 general election slated to commence next month.
While a Federal High Court has halted commencement of the trial, the government is not leaving any stone unturned in a bid to oust the Chief Justice. While ordering his accounts to be frozen, there is a fresh litigation praying for his removal from office.
Absolving the administration of any wrongdoing, Osinbajo claimed President Buhari is not aware of the trial, this the former president claimed was false.
“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,” the number two citizen said at a one day conference organised by Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPAN) on Wednesday.
For the former president, Osinbajo is either lying or that Buhari is not in charge of his administration as alleged in some quarters.
“President Buhari and his hatchet men in the coming election think that the judiciary must be primed in their favour,” Obasanjo said on Sunday in an open letter titled “Point for Concern and Action.”
“Hence, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, has been harassed and prosecuted for non-declaration of his assets without following the Constitution and the law, just to make him conform or set him aside for a Buhari man to take over or act, as President Buhari and his people believe no stone should be left unturned to rig Buhari in.
“It seems to be a ploy to intimidate the judiciary as a whole in preparation for all election cases that will go before them.
“Where and how will all these stop? Typically, with overwhelming outrage and condemnation, we are told that the Presidency denied knowledge of the action. But the Vice-President told us that the President knew of the action on Saturday night for everything that has been prepared for Monday morning.
“Haba VP, it doesn’t happen that way. Nobody should take such measure against any of the four in hierarchy below the President or any of his ministers without his knowledge and indeed his approval. But if that can happen to the Chief Justice of the Federation, the fifth man in the hierarchy of government, without the knowledge let alone the approval of the President, then it speaks for the type of government we have which means the President is not in charge let alone being in control and no Nigerian must take anything for granted.
“We are all unsafe and insecure under such an administration. And enough of it! Buhari’s apologists will not stop at anything to try to cover up his administration’s inadequate performance and character.
“A constitutional liberal democracy cannot thrive without an independent and insulated judiciary from the executive and the legislature. Nigerians must wake up and stop these acts of wanton desperation tantamount to mental incapacity to run the affairs of Nigeria wholesomely.
“Life and living are anchored on trust. But if I trust you and you deceive, cheat or disappoint me the first time, it is shame on you. However, if I allow you to do so the same thing for me the second time, I do not only have myself to blame, I must be regarded as a compound fool,” he added.