The federal government has reacted to the public outcry against the suspension of former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Many Nigerians, as well as the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom have condemned the development.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has now faulted the criticisms in an in interview with newsmen on Saturday in Ilorin.
The minister said the critics ignored the real issues which concern corruption and the need to protect the judiciary.
He said: “Anybody who read the address of the president yesterday will know that he laid out the point and reasons for the action.
“The first is that there are additional evidence revealing that the suspended CJN refused to declare millions of dollars in his possession
“More worrisome is the fact that when the suspended CJN was confronted with the petition that he failed to declare his asset, he admitted adducing the reason that he forgot.
“The people that are crying tyranny and dictatorship should ask where the suspended CJN amass several millions of dollars which he failed to declare.
“We are talking about fighting corruption here. Are those people who are crying wolf saying we should condone corruption?’’
Mohammed said the critics were being “hypocritical and insincere” to say that it was right for a CJN to be in possession of millions of dollars unaccounted for and not declared as required by law.
He said contrary to the opinions of some critics, the president acted legally by obeying the directive of a court of competent jurisdiction to suspend the CJN.
“The president did not just wake up in the morning to suspend the CJN. He was acting based on the order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
“The fundamental question is that where in the world will a Chief Justice of a country fail to declare his asset, confronted with evidence that millions of dollars flowed into his account and the only defence will be that he forgot.
” I agree with the president that as soon as those allegations were made, the right thing he would have done was to excuse himself.
“I also agree with the president that the alacrity with which judgments were coming from left right and centre supporting the CJN is a departure from slow machinery of justice that we are all used to,” he said.
The minister stressed that the president’s suspension of the CJN was sequel to the order of a competent court and that critics should look beyond sentiments.
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