By Toby Prince
Executive Director, Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative (ARDI), Dennis Aghanya, has explained why he wrote a petition accusing Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, of false asset declaration.
In a report made public on Sunday morning, Mr Aghanya denied allegations that his petition was sponsored by the Presidency, saying he also took President Muhammadu Buhari to court in 2011.
“Did you not know that I once took Mr. President to court in 2011? I used to be one of his aides but I took him to court.
“This is a petition by an NGO. What has Mr. President got to do with it? People are just trying to avoid a major issue. Our concern is to unveil irregularities. People should not try to politicise the good work we are doing.
“The person the petition was written against owed up to everything. In issues of this nature, should we be sentimental or do we face facts?” Aghanya told the newspaper’s correspondent on phone
Asked why the petition against Onnoghen was coming so close to the elections, Aghanya said there was no time lag in things of that nature.
He noted that his organisation commenced investigation against the senior judicial officer about a year ago.
He dismissed the allegations that the petition was politically motivated, adding that the ARDI should rather be commended for exposing the alleged misdemeanour of the CJN.
Aghanya said it was not true that the petition was calculated to emasculate the judiciary or help President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election in the forthcoming presidential poll, arguing that Nigerians should be more interested in the substance of the case.
He said, “There is no time lag in things of that nature, but it appears people are leaving the substance of the case to pursue shadow. People have not looked at the merit of the case, so they are not bothered that something was going wrong and we had to point it out.
“I weep for this country. How are we working for Mr President? Is it because we came up with a petition that was substantiated? Why should it be tied to the elections? It is immaterial. Even before he was sworn in as the CJN, there were cases established against him, but nobody had the courage to take them up.”
Onnoghen is expected to appear before the Code of Conduct tribunal on Monday.
Aghanya said he will address a press conference soon.