Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari only became aware of the scheduled trial of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, on Saturday.
Mr. Osinbajo made the claim in Abuja on Wednesday during a one-day conference organised by Online Publishers Association of Nigeria, with the theme: “Free Press and objective reporting in the 2019 election year.”
He regretted that the CJN had to go through the process. but said President Buhari had issued specific instructions that anti-graft institutions should be allowed to do their jobs without any interference.
“I must tell you in clear terms that, for President Muhammadu Buhari, his whole approach is that institutions should just do their work.
“I can tell you for a fact that he did not even know about this (CJN trial) until Saturday evening. I don’t feel good about it that senior members of my profession are being tried.
“He did not even know that there was going to be any kind of trial until Saturday evening.
“He had said categorically, ‘Don’t interfere with whatever institutions are doing,’ Osinbajo said.
The vice president also expressed regret over the trial of the National President of Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro (SAN).
Onnoghen’s infamous trial at the Danladi Umar-led Code of Conduct Tribunal was expected to commence in Abuja on Monday on charges of failures to declare his assets as required by law and for operating Bank Domiciliary Foreign Currency Accounts, but the case was adjourned due to failure of the prosecution to effect proper service of the charges on the accused.
Later in the day, an Abuja Court issued a temporary order stopping the trial.
It is understood that the Federal Government has ordered the discontinuation of Onnoghen’s arraignment.
Nigeria’s most respected senior lawyers had condemned the CJN’s trial as a “denigration of the country’s Judiciary and Constitution.”
Recall that at least 47 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) had on Monday stormed the Code of Conduct Tribunal to defend Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen in the open hearing.