President Muhammadu Buhari only got to know about the trial of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Saturday, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has stated.
He also expressed sadness over the trial of the National President of Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro (SAN).
The PUNCH reported that while the CJ had been scheduled to face trial at the CCT over the non-declaration of assets, Usoro is standing trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on account of payments received from Akwa Ibom governor for job done.
The Federal Government has, meanwhile, ordered the discontinuation of Onnoghen’s arraignment.
While absolving Buhari of pre-arranging the trial of Onnoghen for non declaration of assets, Osinbajo said Buhari never had any fact of financial misdemeanor involving the CJN until Saturday evening.
He expressed regrets that the CJN had to go through the process. He, however, said Buhari had issued specific instructions that anti-graft institutions should be allowed to do their jobs without any interference.
The Vice President made these clarifications in Abuja on Wednesday during a one-day conference organised by Online Publishers Association of Nigeria, with the theme: “Free Press and objective reporting in the 2019 election year.”
He said, “I must tell you in clear terms that, for President Muhammadu Buhari, his whole approach is that institutions should just do their work.
“I can tell you for a fact that he did not even know about this (CJN trial) until Saturday evening. I don’t feel good about it that senior members of my profession are being tried.
“He did not even know that there was going to be any kind of trial until Saturday evening.
“He had said categorically, ‘Don’t interfere with whatever institutions are doing.’
Sometimes, it has consequences such as we have today, such that people say, ‘How can such an important person be subjected to trial without the Federal Government?’
“But I can tell you without any equivocation that he (Buhari) was not aware.”