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Federal Government bars ex-CJN Onnoghen from travelling; stops his allowances

Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen

The Federal Government has barred Ex-Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen from travelling out of the country.

Onnoghen was wrongly removed from office by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration before his conviction by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in April for not declaring some of his assets. He was also barred from holding public office for 10 years by the CCT.

The Appeal Court vehemently condemned the way in which Onnoghen was removed from office. His removal was no doubt premeditated. However, the court which is higher than the CCT could not nullify the judgement and the order of the CCT which the president acted on.

The three-man appeal court panel led by Justice Stephen Adah could only rule that the judgement against Onnoghen by the CCT breached the ex-CJN’s right to fair hearing.

The ex-CJN was prevented from travelling on November 11, 2019, with his passport seized by the Nigeria Immigration Service on the apparent order from the presidency.

Onnoghen, his wife and daughter were on their way to Accra, Ghana, when stopped by the NIS.

“On November 11, 2019, retired Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, was attempting to travel to Accra, Ghana. He was in company with his wife, Nkoyo, and daughter. His passport, with number A50445233, was flagged because Justice Onnoghen’s name was on the watch list. The passport is currently in custody of the NIS,” an internal report by the NIS reads.

The Punch reports that an undisclosed top immigration officer revealed that the ex-CJN would have to meet with the presidency over the issue as they only followed order from above.

“Justice Onnoghen will have to meet with the Presidency to know why his passport was seized. We are only following instructions,” the officer said (as seen on Punch).

Report has it that this recent attack against the ex-CJN was due to his decision to challenge his conviction by the CCT in court.  

Rumour has it that he was not paid his benefits after retiring, his accounts remain frozen, and his allowance was stopped. With no money to survive, some judges had to donate some money to him for his health.

His removal which came just few weeks to the presidential election was clearly a witch-hunt. He was accused of not declaring five of his bank accounts and was not given any opportunity to defend himself properly by the Danladi Umar led CCT.

Onnoghen was CJN from March 1, 2017 to April 5, 2019.

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