Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
As controversy continues to trail the confirmation of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum, Mr. Ayodele Fayose has called on the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN to as a matter of constitution send the name of Justice Onnoghen to the Senate for confirmation.
The Governor said, “Prof Osinbajo, a lawyer himself should know that it is dangerous to the unity of Nigeria and sustenance of democracy that it is now being insinuated that Justice Onnoghen is being denied appointment as substantive CJN on the basis of ethnicity and politics.”
The governor also said he and other Nigerians agitating for the appointment of Justice Onnoghen as the substantive CJN were not fighting for Onnoghen as a person, but for the sanctity of the office of the CJN, which the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government was allegedly trying to rubbish.
In a statement issued yesterday by his Special Assistant on Public Communications, Lere Olayinka, Fayose said it was strange that President Muhammadu Buhari chose to appoint Justice Onnoghen as acting CJN despite that the National Judicial Council (NJC) recommended him to the President since October 13, 2016, 28 clear days to November 10, 2016 that the immediate past CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed retired.
The governor said; “As a lawyer, acting President Osinbajo should do the needful by simply sending Justice Onnoghen’s name to the Senate as recommended by the NJC.”
Reacting to Onnoghen’s plea that Nigerians should not pressurise President Buhari into making him the substantive CJN, and that the president does not need any threat or ultimatum to perform his constitutional duties, Fayose said; “We are not fighting for Justice Onnoghen as an individual. Rather, we are fighting for Nigeria and the sanctity of the office of the CJN which for the first time in the history of judiciary in Nigeria is being used to play political and ethic games.”
Fayose has also threatened to sue the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Zenith Bank Plc for allegedly defying a court order unfreezing his accounts with the financial institution.
The governor said he suspected that the EFCC was conniving with the bank’s management in Ado Ekiti in preventing him from having access to his account in flagrant disobedience to court order, with intention to humiliate him.
Fayose, who emerged the chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum recently, accused the ruling APC of sponsoring those he described as charlatans in the party to destabilise the opposition party ahead of the 2019 poll.
He was on Friday prevented from withdrawing from the account in spite of the December 13, 2016 judgment of a Federal High Court removing the restriction placed on the account by EFCC on the premise that the account was stashed with the N2.99 billion allegedly taken by the governor from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki to fund his 2014 governorship election.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo in his judgment said Fayose by virtue of section 308 of the 1999 constitution enjoys absolute immunity, saying what the anti-graft agency did was a constitutional infraction, which gave the governor the liberty to withdraw a sum of N5 million from the account the subsequent day.
Fayose, who spoke during an interactive section with members of the Nigeria Union Journalists (NUJ) in Ado Ekiti weekend said: “There was a valid court judgment that the EFCC must hands off my money. That judgment was delivered on the 13th December, 2016.
“Even on the 30th of January, 2017, the same court refused stay of execution of the judgment of December 13 filed. The court said it was done in bad faith. So I don’t know the law they are relying on to block my account.
“I went there myself today (yesterday). I did the needful, but they didn’t allow me to withdraw. This is contemptuous of the court and proper action will be taken against them”, he added.