Don’t appear before CCT, south-south governors tell Onnoghen

Justice Walter Onnoghen

Governors of the south-south geopolitical zone elected on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) platform on Sunday advised Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, not to appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to defend the false assets declaration charges levelled against him.

The governors spoke after an emergency meeting held at the Bayelsa State Governor’s Lodge, Abuja on Sunday.

Present at the meeting were Governors Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa), Nyesom Wike, (Rivers) Ben Ayade (Cross River) and Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom).

Ifeanyi Okowa and Godwin Obaseki (Edo) were absent at the meeting.

Onnoghen is expected to appear before the CCT on Monday.

Dickson, who read a communique at the end of the governor’s meeting, said while they were not opposed to a genuine fight against corruption, such an action must always be anchored on the rule of law.

“We call on the CJN to ignore this so-called court summons from the CCT and the provocative call for his resignation in some quarters.

“While we are not opposed to a genuine fight against corruption, such an action must always be anchored on the rule of law,” Dickson said.

He stated that the action would not only undermine confidence in the judiciary, it would also erode confidence in the electoral process in view of the pivotal role that the judiciary plays in the process of electoral adjudication.

The governor said they believed that President Muhammadu Buhari had a constitutional responsibility and moral obligation to defend the nation’s democracy.

The governors, Dickson said, considered the step to arraign the CJN as directly aimed at humiliating the nation’s highest judicial officer and a prominent son of the geopolitical zone.

Onnoghen’s trial, he noted, “is totally unacceptable to us as it is reflective of the endless story of the marginalisation and intimidation of the South-South.”

He cited the removal of a former acting director general of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mathew Seiyefa, and his replacement with a northerner to back his claim.