Former Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen (rtd) on Friday in Abuja, said his removal from office by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019, had political undertone.
He spoke for the first time of the controversy surrounding his dismissal from office.
Onnoghen, who spoke at a book launch, said he was accused of holding a meeting with former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, prior to the 2019 elections.
The former CJN said that he decided not to respond to the rumoured meeting, adding, however, that the Federal Government, instead of investigating the allegation, opted to go after him and removed him from office.
Onnoghen noted that he neither met with Atiku or any politician for that matter, adding that he also never travelled to Dubai.
He said: “Prior to my suspension, I was confronted with no allegation. There were rumours that I met with Atiku in Dubai.
“As I am talking here today, I have never met Atiku one on one in my life.
“As if that was not enough, I was also accused of setting free, high-profile criminals, whereas I seized to be a High Court Judge as far back as 1978.
“In Supreme Court, I did not sit alone. We sit in panels. In all these rumours and outright accusations, I was not given the opportunity to defend myself.
“Let me make it clear that the office of the CJN was not for Onnoghen but for all Nigerians who had sworn to guide and protect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“To say the least, the period of my ordeal was the darkest era in the history of the Nigerian judiciary and as I have severally said, judicial officers must be courageous.”
Onnoghen urged judicial officers not to be discouraged by what happened to him in the hand of the Executive arm of the government.
“Emerging Nigerian judges should not go the direction of injustice because without courageous judges and justice, Nigeria is doomed.
“Here, let me sound this note of warning that the appointment of judicial officers must never be allowed to be politicised, otherwise, democracy and democratic governance will be dead.
“During my tenure, the problem of Nigeria was not the Nigerian judiciary, but those who had no regard for the rule of law.
“We must therefore be committed to the rule of law and dispense justice without fear or favour.
“Truth stands, crush it, it will stand because it is truth, Onnoghen,” he said.