The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, has said the recent string of court losses suffered by the prosecution in high-profile corruption cases since his substantive appointment last month, is neither the fault of the judiciary nor an indication that the anti-corruption campaign is losing steam.
He barred his mind yesterday at the State House, Abuja after he visited to welcome President Muhammadu Buhari from his medical leave in London and to thank him for appointing him CJN.
Speaking to journalists afterwards, Onnoghen said the government’s war against corruption did not come up in his discussions with Buhari, but pointed out that the government agencies have the chance to appeal the court judgements, so no momentum has been lost.
“You take that as losing steam? If there was steam, then it wouldn’t have been without the participation of the Judiciary. So, if there is losing of steam, you should not equally relate it only to the judiciary. The fight against corruption has lost no steam. It is not correct.
“Now, you should know one thing: two people will always have a quarrel. They may three or four or one hundred. All the parties to that quarrel will always have different stories to tell.
“By the way, our system is fashioned and designed and operated, when you go to a court of law, you cannot have a drawn game. There must be a winner and there must be a loser. In our system, a loser has the chance of appealing to the highest court eventually.
“So, you cannot say because the government or any agency has lost a case in the high court, you have lost a case and the fight is losing steam. You should realise that there is a constitution in place and under the constitution, there is a rule of law.
“Every system under a constitutional arrangement operated under the rule of law must have these things as checks and balances to protect everyone. It is for everyone”, he stated.
Also, reacting to speculation of a judicial gang up against the Executive arm, the CJN said “I am not going to speculate. I am a lawyer and judicial officer. I operate on facts and the law.
“So, I can’t answer that question because I am not on everybody’s mind. You are free to think whatever you want to think but I think you should be guided by facts and the law when it comes to judicial performance or discharge of judicial responsibilities.”