By Jonathan Ugbal
The former Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on prosecution, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla has broken silence on allegations that he had a hand in the removal of his kinsman, Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Obono-Obla, a lawyer hails from Ugep in Yakurr Local Government Area while Justice Onnoghen hails from Biase Local Government Area both in Cross River State and share a common boundary.
On April 5, 2019, the embattled Justice Onnoghen who had been suspended earlier, resigned. He was facing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal for not declaring his assets. He was later convicted and barred from holding public office for 10 years.
And, Obono-Obla who was one of the arrowheads in the prosecution of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s led administrations fight against corruption was fingered as instigating Onnoghen’s removal, an allegation he denied via a Facebook post on Friday.
”A lot of false narratives or stories have been woven by detractors concerning me. Well, it is the price I have to pay for doing my job with patriotism and courage. One such false narrative is the fat lie that I played a role in the events that led to the retirement of The Honourable Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen, former Chief Justice of Nigeria. I want to state here categorically and unequivocally that I didn’t have any hand in the events that led to the retirement of Justice Samuel Walter Onnoghen,” he wrote.
Obono-Obla said there was nothing he could do as an appointee then and wondered why many did not point to other Cross Riverians serving in higher offices including the Federal Executive Council.
“I cannot really decipher why detractors will keep on dragging my name on this matter. I don’t really know what detractors wanted me to do then. When this matter was raging I never proffered any opinion or said anything. I kept a studied silence because I was then an appointee of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Some of my critics are of the opinion that I should have said something. But how could any sane person suggest that an appointee of government would come out openly and criticize a government which he is serving? Who does that?
“The argument that I did nothing concerning the travails of Justice Onnoghen is balderdash. Why do they expect me to do for goodness sake? In any event, I was not the highest-ranking Cross Riverian in the Federal Government of Nigeria during this period.
“We had an array of Cross Riverians holding strategic/important appointments in the Federal government of Nigeria then. We had a Minister, Chief of Naval Staff, Head of Service, etc. The Minister and the Head of Service were members of the Executive Council of the Federation, the highest policy-making organ of the Federal executive branch of Government.
“I was a mere Special Assistant to the President and Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property then. The truth of the matter is that I don’t have any business covertly or overtly to do with that unfortunate matter. The allegation is spurious, baseless, purely politically motivated.
“In Nigeria, we play bad and malicious politics. So it is convenient for some people to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. I am not the least worried about the prejudices and machinations of Man. The only judgment I am worried about is that of my creator. My conscience is clear, so I fear nothing,” he wrote.
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