Buhari: I was reluctant to deal with Onnoghen

President Buhari in a handshake with Justice Onnoghen

President Muhammadu Buhari says he was reluctant to deal with Walter Onnoghen, former chief justice of Nigeria (CJN).

The president had suspended the ex-CJN before he was charged with false assets declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

Speaking when leaders of Afenifere, a Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, visited him on Tuesday, Buhari said Onnoghen had to go because he acted in violation of the office he occupied.

“I will tell you as Afenifere, that I had to deal, though reluctantly, with the former chief justice because there were millions of dollars, euros, not to talk of naira, which were not declared,” he said.

“I wonder what sort of conscience some of us have, how can you sit and preside and lock people up for years and even sentence some to death and yet you are not doing what the constitution says you should do by occupying that vital position.”

The president said his administration is determined to recover stolen funds and properties within and outside the country.

He said all the recovered properties would be sold and the money put in the nation’s treasury to make it impossible to return such properties to the looters in future.

“So, we are recovering as much as we can under the system and this time around I said the properties will be sold and the money put in the treasury,” he said.

“The last time they were given back their properties but this time around whoever comes after me no matter how generous he is, he cannot take money from the treasury give it to individuals, it will be impossible.

“But anybody who cannot account for what he has and for refusing to declare, we will have to do something about it.”.

Olabiyi Durojaiye, a former senator, who spoke on behalf of Afenifere, said the group was in the presidential villa to rejoice with the president and the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on their re-election.

Durojaiye also commended Buhari for his recognition of June 12, describing it as a landmark in the political history of Nigeria.

He said: “We are proud of our contributions to your victory through the Yoruba Summit Conference held at the University of Ibadan International Conference Centre on January 29,” he said.

“There, we passed a well-applauded motion urging all the people of Western Nigeria origin of voting age to vote for your re-election by virtue of your people-oriented and welfarist APC political programmes and performance. We are happy the people complied.

“We are also here to commend Your Excellency for your recognition of June 12 as a landmark in the political history of Nigeria and for naming the National Stadium in Abuja after Chief MKO Abiola, the hero of Nigeria’s pro-Democracy struggle.

“We are equally glad to note and commend Your Excellency for your efforts to empower the 36 states in Nigeria to have control of the police as a measure of improving security.’’

He said Afenifere was also delighted over the “giant stride” of the Buhari administration in the field of agriculture, social intervention, revival and modernisation of rail transportation, continuing efforts to complete the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway among other achievements.

He, however, highlighted some major issues of paramount interest to the people of south-west region in particular and the unity, progress and happiness of the entire country in general.

The Yoruba socio-cultural group made requests bordering on security, education, youth employment, power supply and agriculture.


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