The Onnoghen saga started like a drama when the allegations of fraud and misconduct appeared against the CJN who was the first Southerner to hold that seat in 2 decades. It further escalated into a melodrama with his arraignment before the CCT leading to cries and puffs by notably the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) who went on strike (I lost money traveling to Aba just to take an adjournment). There were also numerous sympathy from Brothers at the Bar notably our best SANs who trooped out for him leading more than 100 Counsel and other brothers-in-arms who secured various injunctions within record time from cases filed, heard and injunctions granted on the same day both at the Federal High Court and National Industrial Court. What about the suit filed against the Federal Government on this issue?
The National Judicial Council(NJC) stepped in after receiving petitions against Onnoghen and Tanko, it set up a committee to investigate and another committee to further screen what they reported.
The exparte order of suspension by the Code of Conduct Tribunal turned it into a tragic drama as bad precedence to override the powers of the NJC to remove a Judicial Officer was being set.
On social media, Tanko the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria was ridiculed as not attending Law school, coming in through the Sharia Court and being a stooge. In Legal circles, people wondered why he would make himself available to be sworn in after the illegal removal of his brother at the bench. The exclusive powers of the NJC were echoed and re-echoed on TV and Radio by Lawyers and activists who appeared looking their best dressed and condemning President Buhari and the acting CJN Tanko.
When Tanko swore in the election petition judges less than 24hours in office, many concluded that it was the main reason Onnoghen was shoved out and as only one fellow Judge appeared with him for the swearing-in ceremony, many pointed to this fact as representing the resentment of his brother Jurists to the illegality of his position as an acting CJN not recommended by the NJC
Appeals were filed and heard(in record time ) on urgency challenging jurisdiction and propriety of the CCT trial, surprisingly the Appeal Court tarried and didn’t come to the quick aid of Onnoghen being their oga pata pata as many expected and further surprisingly ordered for the CCT trial to continue!
The prosecution closed their case after 3 witnesses out of 6 earlier intended and gunshots were released in the air in joy as his supporters screamed Eureka and claimed victory from almighty God.
At last, no 55 houses(as alleged on social media) were proved, no foreign accounts containing millions of dollars, people rolled in ecstasy at the failure of the prosecution to show he did any wrong , some people even misunderstood the prosecution closing their case to mean the case has been dismissed and clinked glasses of wine in joy. When his no case submission was struck out and he called his driver as his witness (caught with an expo in the dock), the interest waned and sympathy moved on to other needy Nigerians like the victim of SARs killing.
The NJC, the last arbiter finally dealt a blow to popular belief of the innocence of Onnoghen based on tribal and religious sentiments by analysts and have hanged him out to dry with a soft landing recommendation leaving him at the mercy of the President and Senate.
Justice Walter Onnoghen finally resigned to avoid further roforofo as the street language will describe it.
This is what he ought to have done immediately the allegations came up and he received the queries from the CCT and EFCC!
Wisdom is never found in crowd and mobs!
Civility is not a sign of weakness and sincerity will always be put to test!
Written by Okoro Chidozie Kennedy