Updated: March 2, 2021
On a day like this, two months ago, Chief Justice Nkanu Onnoghen was slapped with a charge of embarrassment. Better put as media trial by the alleged claim of the Government, berating him for failing to declare his assets before assumption of office as the highest judicial officer of the land, calling the greatest test of morality, integrity and honesty into question.
If anyone had known better, it would have been adjudged a case of false witness, maybe we can slightly term it assassination of character like Senate President Bukola Saraki who was roped into the bloody Kwara armed robbery scandal; Onnoghen like the biblical martyr, Stephen, was placed on a slab for a thousand cuts.
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Call it the most controversial case of the century, Onnoghen’s case became a topic that brought about several commentaries- the good, bad and ugly. Many believed it was a political case; others supported the Presidency on this one. This article is not to berate the people for taking sides- let’s not forget that the case was hurried, however Onnoghen’s travail has finally stood the test of time and we now know why just a few months after his confirmation as Chief Justice, the Presidency sought his persecution so.
Fast forward to three months later, the case is still on trial. The new terminology deployed by the Government is that the case has now been “closed.” For a layman like me, I would have thought this was eureka for Onnoghen and like the way traditional media, The Punch wrongly reported it, one would have thought the case was out of court until I realised that the tribunal was widely misquoted by many. Apparently, a closed case translates to mean that the Federal Government was done with calling out its witnesses and it was now time for the defence- Onnoghen’s counsel to take the stand and own the stage, proving to the world without reasonable doubt that he is innocent of all the charges levelled against him. The charge according to Premium Times is a six-count charge. A charge that is majorly repetitive of the same thing- non-declaration of assets before assuming office and after assuming office. Isn’t one charge the same as the six? However that is not the contention. The contention is while the Federal Government were calling out their witnesses which was a total of six, only three were used and they all testified Onnoghen was innocent of the charges brought against him.
Majority of the claim bordered on the $3 million undeclared in foreign accounts. That turned out to be false when Okagbue of Standard Chartered told the tribunal Onnoghen maintains five different accounts in her bank in Nigeria. According to her, two of them – Current and savings were naira accounts while the remaining three were Euro, Pound and dollar accounts as reported by the Guardian. As at December 2018, one of the naira accounts had #12.8 million and #2.6 million in the other respectively while the three foreign accounts under review had 10,187 Euros, 13,730 pounds and 56,878 dollars in that order. All of these going to show that the Chief Justice who is been publicly persecuted was living honestly with nothing to actually hide, as several evidences continued to truthfully come to fore. The Federal Government noticing they had hit a brick wall hit closed the case, refused to call the remaining three witnesses and went on to arrest his driver, raided his farm in search of grimy evidence- anything, everything bad or incriminating just to nail this man for nothing really. They even went as far as cautioning journalists not to write about it in their continual desire to tighten loose ends. The tribunal is rest assured we will not misquote you, but we will comment as the process goes on.
In another clime, Senator Ademola Adeleke would have been declared winner of the Osun Gubernatorial Election, but this is Nigeria so it seems. Any election result can be upturned at the point of declaration and that was what happened even though nobody expected Adeleke to win or slightly gave him a chance. He beat Oyetola with a close margin of about 353 votes but INEC had already declared the election inconclusive marred with irregularities and ordered a re-run in affected areas. That was where APC got the upper hand until less than two weeks when the tribunal declared the election in their favour. This happened because two judges sought to cast their weight behind the PDP candidate and grant a ruling.
In both cases- Adeleke and Onnoghen, victory is not yet theirs. APC has promised to appeal the ruling while Onnoghen is still in the docks, as regards case proceedings but one thing has stood sure to Nigerians and observers all over the world- the truth. Morally and Biblically, the truth is real fact coming to terms with time and shinning its embers to the world. That is how it sets one free- the truth takes time. In Adeleke and Onnoghen’s case the truth has done its job. This is not a matter of flaying support but a declaration of what is true and just. Like as always, good always prevails over bad, so also truth above lies. The recent trend of events is what happens when the truth comes to fore. In here lies a great lesson that the truth will set you free. The truth is not a whiff of the wind. It has its own time and season and no matter how long and eerie the cold nights are, nobody can stop the truth from coming to be.