…as EFCC refutes probe report, says it’s mischievous
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA-The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, on Wednesday, said he was ready to surrender himself to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for probe.
Justice Onnoghen, who maintained that he has nothing to hide, said his attention was drawn to a media report that he was being investigated by the anti-graft agency “for yet-to-be disclosed reasons”.
The CJN, in a statement that was signed by his media aide, Mr. Awassam Bassey, said he was “ready to pay the required price to make the nation a better place”.
He said he has never been invited or called upon by the EFCC to offer any explanation on any impropriety, saying he would however not be distracted in his effort to reform the Judiciary.
The statement by the CJN read: “Our attention has been drawn to media reports quoting the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as probing the Hon. The Chief Justice of Nigeria (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”.
In a related development, the EFCC, in a statement on Wednesday, debunked report that it is currently probing the CJN.
The Commission, insisted that the report which it described as “diversionary and mischievous”, did not emanate from it.
It however admitted that before Justice Onnoghen was elevated to the CJN position, some petitions that were written against him were investigated and found to be without merit and discarded.
While also admitting that it recently forwarded a list of some of its high-profile investigations to the Attorney General of the Federation, EFCC, said it was “troubling” how such was leaked to the media.
According to EFCC, “much damage has been done to the Commission’s investigation activities by this leak”, even as it alleged a deliberate effort to pitch it against the judiciary.
The statement entitled “CJN Not Currently Under Investigation”, which was signed by Head, Media & Publicity at the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, read: “The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been drawn to a story entitled, CJN, Okonjo-Iweala, Fayemi, Fayose, Others Under Probe- EFCC, which appeared in The PunchNewspaper of 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.
“According to the newspaper, “The list, sighted by one of our correspondents via an EFCC source on Monday, was recently sent by the anti-graft agency to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), based on request.
“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 Attorney General of the Federation 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”.
Meanwhile, according to the disputed report, aside the CJN and former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, other high-profile names on the investigation list the EFCC forwarded to the AGF, included 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); a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed
Others are former Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Stella Oduah, who is currently the Senator representing Anambra North; and a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, incumbent Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, that of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, and his predecessor, Captain Idris Wada,
As well as former governor of Akwa Ibom State who is currently the Senate’s Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, former governor of Plateau State who is also a serving Senator, Jonah Jang, ex-governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sherriff and former governor of Edo State, Lucky Igbinedion.
Equally on the probe list were two former media aides to ex-President Jonathan, Dr. Reuben Abati and Dr. Doyin Okupe, former acting Chairman of the PDP, 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, Abdullahi Dikko, among others.