On Tuesday, security operatives, now unidentified surrounded the official residence of the the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.
According to sources familiar with the development, the heavily armed security operatives arrived at the chief justice’s residence in Abuja at about 5:30 pm on Tuesday, January 15, 2019.
An inside source who spoke with Femi Fani-Kayode and Yinka Odumakin, a former aviation minister and the spokesperson of pan-political Yoruba group, Afenifere, the operatives were from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“They are here and apparently, the intention is to arrest the Justice Onnoghen,” the source, who didn’t wish to be named told The Trent. “They said it is based on orders from the president. This is not a democracy but a dictatorship!”
Our source, quoted above is neither Chief Fani-Kayode or Mr. Odumakin.
Mr. Odumakin, had confirmed the incident in a short video sent to The Trent, in which he said that the EFCC was making efforts to arrest the CJN.
“It has just come to our notice that men of the EFCC are currently at the gate of the CJN to effect his arrest despite the fact that the matter in the issue is still in court. We cannot understand the desperation by this administration to heat up the polity by carrying pour this arrest action.
“We call on president Muhammadu Buhari to call the EFCC to order not to create unnecessary tension in the system by effecting the arrest of the CJN when the matter is in court. It is not in the best interest of the government of Nigeria to be encouraging people to do self-help. They should ensure that they maintain the rule of law. Impunity is too much and the president should see to it that this does not continue.”
Following our report on the development, news journalists and reporters moved to the scene of the security agency activity to capture the story at the home of Chief Justice Onnoghen.
As more journalists began to arrive to join the first three who made it first, the security operatives became jittery and dispersed quickly. But this was not before they damaged the camera and assaulted one photo journalist, according to Chief Fani-Kayode.
“Yesterday, I was informed by usually reliable sources that EFCC were positioned outside CJN’s home,” the former minister wrote in an e-mail to The Trent on Wednesday, January 16, 2018.
“I have since discovered that the men were not from EFCC and I removed the posting. The error is regretted.
“Meanwhile can the Federal Government tell us which agency sent those men and why they beat a retreat? Again is it true that a television journalist was arrested at the scene and his camera and footage confiscated?
If so, why?
“Finally is it true that the Attorney General has ordered the NFIU to freeze Onnoghen’s bank accounts. Questions, questions, questions! The tyranny continues unabated,” he concluded.
Following this embarrassing episode, the EFCC, issued a fiery statement attack the duo of Fani-Kayode and Odumakin. The anti-graft commission threatened to sue the men for, essentially, something they never reported.
In an e-mailed statement signed by The Trent, on Tuesday, the EFCC threatened to take legal action for libel against the former minister and Mr. Odumakin.
EFFC Denies Non-existent Allegation
In a swift reaction to reports that its agents had surrounded the home of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, on Tuesday, the EFCC in a statement signed by Tony Orilade, its acting spokesperson issued a denial in which it made up allegations against the agency and also threatened to sue the former aviation minister and the Afenifere spokesperson for spreading “fake news”.
Below is the full unedited statement of the EFCC which was e-mailed to The Trent.
EFCC Never Raided CJN, Onnoghen’s House- Spokesperson
The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has been drawn to the falsehood which has been spreading on the social media that the EFCC has arrested the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen. This is not only a figment of the imagination of the purveyor of the fake news, but an evil machination by the creator and carriers of the news aimed at creating anarchy in the country.
For the record, the EFCC never went to the house of the CJN for arrest neither was invitation extended to him.
Several calls and short messages received all point to the fact that the brains behind the fake news had one thing in mind: to act as agent of destabilization. We would not give in to their plots.
One of the architect of the fake news, Femi Fani-Kayode, was quoted as saying “Why have the EFCC surrounded the home of CJN Onnoghen and why are they seeking to arrest him? These people want Nigeria to burn! Buhari call off your dogs before it is too late! This is a democracy and not a gestapo state! In the name of God let this madness stop”. Another arrowhead of the fake news, Yinka Odumakin shared a non-existent video which has gone viral.
We want to assure Nigerians that while we would fight corruption in line with the mandate setting up the Commission, agents of darkness, in the likes of Femi Fani-Kayode, Yinka Odumakin and his cohorts, would never be able to manipulate the people against the Commission.
We also want to assure Fani-Kayode, Yinka Odumakin and other purveyors of the evil news to be ready to defend their actions in the court of law as the EFCC will file libel suit against them without further delay.
The Embattled Chief Justice
This move by the executive arm of the federal government comes soon after a petition written by a former aide to President Muhammadu was used as the trigger for a swift corruption trial of Onnoghen on Monday.
Based on the petition written by Dennis Aghanya, the executive secretary, Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative, ARDI. the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, arraigned the chief justice on charges of false asset declaration.