By Bridget Chiedu Onochie
Abuja — Ahead of today’s meeting of the National Judicial Council (NJC), the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has accused the Acting Chairman of the council, Justice Umaru Abdullahi, of conniving with the presidency to forcefully retire Justice Walter Onnoghen and recommend Justice Tanko Mohammed as the substantive CJN.
The council had earlier fixed today to consider responses from Justices Onnoghen and Tanko over the petitions written against them.
In a statement issued on Sunday in Abuja through its spokesperson, Ikenga-Imo Ugochinyere, the CUPP claimed to have obtained a copy of the purported draft resolution of the NJC handed down by the acting chairman of the council for possible adoption at the end of the meeting today.
Ugochinyere said: “The compromised draft resolution contains the decision that the suspended Onnoghen be forcefully retired while Justice Mohammed be confirmed as the substantive CJN.
“It also contains the defence of Justice Tanko that as at the time he made himself available in the Villa to be sworn in as acting CJN, he did not have much of a choice as security operatives were detailed to bring him to the Villa on his way from the Mosque.
“The acting chairman of NJC, Justice Abdullahi has already sealed a deal with the presidency and has already commenced his role of persuading members of the NJC to support the government and adopt the resolution.
“Justice Abdullahi, who happens to come from Katsina State and was also a classmate of President Muhammadu Buhari at the Katsina Government Secondary School, had reached certain understanding with the presidency,” the coalition alleged.
CUPP said “Nigerians will recall that this same Umaru Abdullahi was one of the first persons recruited by President Muhammadu Buhari to defend his controversial certificate saga by claiming that Buhari wrote the WASC examinations.
“Members of NJC who have refused to be compromised have been threatened with allegations of corruption. The coalition therefore urged Justice Abdullahi to step aside for allegation of bias.
“We shall continue to do all within the ambits of law to defend our constitutional democracy and we must not wary.”
The Federal Government is prosecuting Onnoghen before the Code of Conduct Tribunal sitting in Abuja over alleged non-declaration of five of his domiciliary accounts.
However, a source from NJC, who pleaded anonymity, accused the coalition of speculations.
He wondered how the decision would have been taken before the meeting of NJC scheduled for today.
“The coalition is just preempting. We know how these things work. The NJC is yet to meet. The body would be sitting tomorrow (today) to look at the response from petition forwarded to Justice Onnoghen. It is after deliberating on it that NJC will come up with a position,” the source held.