‘Prove to Nigerians that Onnoghen’s trial is not politically motivated,’ Senior Advocates tell Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has been asked to extend corruption probe to other judges by Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), under the aegis of Justice Reform Project (JRP)

This was contained in a statement signed by 20 SANs Tuesday.

The group said the voluntary resignation of Justice Walter Onnoghen should not be the end of the corruption allegations leveled against him.

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The SANs said the law should take its course given the level of allegations against him so as to deter others from coming same crime.

They called on the President to probe other judges in order to fish out erring parties.

They pointed out the importance for Buhari to take this step in order to convince Nigerians that Onnoghen’s trial was not a politically-motivated witch-hunt and had no ethnic inclination.

The SANs said the details of the allegations of financial mismanagement raised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Onnoghen in the petition it submitted to the National Judicial Council, and Onnoghen’s response to the allegations, “raised significant questions about the financial practices of the Nigerian judiciary and the various heads of courts.”

It, therefore, called on Buhari not to limit the probe to Onnoghen.

“Beyond Honourable Justice W.S.N. Onnoghen, the JRP believes the revelations that have been made in the course of this affair necessitate that urgent steps be taken to identify and sanction all other Nigerian judicial officers who are found to posses inexplicable wealth that cannot be reconciled with their legitimate income or their asset declarations, two of the allegations made against Justice Onnoghen.

“These steps are necessary for a variety of reasons. First, to ensure public confidence in the judiciary and disabuse the notion that all judicial officers in Nigeria are corrupt and that justice is for sale.

“Second, to disabuse the notion that Justice W.SN. Onnoghen’s travails are a mere witch-hunt motivated by ethnic and political interests rather than the result of a genuine concern for sanitising and reforming the Nigerian judiciary.

“Third, to eliminate the suspicion that the executive arm of government is using the information it has access to, by virtue of its control over the apparatus of the state, to take selective action only against those judicial officers that fail to do its bidding.”

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