President Muhammadu Buhari has justified the treatment of retired Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, saying that he dealt with him for having in his possession undeclared foreign and local currencies.
According to the president, he reluctantly `dealt’ with former CJN Onnoghen following the discovery of huge amount of monies (both in foreign and local currencies) that were traced to him. He said:
“Anybody who cannot account for what he has and for refusing to declare it, we will have to do something about it.
“I will tell you as Afenifere, that was why I had to deal though reluctantly with the former Chief Justice, because there were millions of dollars, euros, not to talk of naira, which were not declared.
“I wonder what sort of conscience some of us have. How can you seat and preside over and lock people up for years and even sentence some to death and yet you are not doing what the constitution said you should do by occupying that vital institution.
“So, I stopped getting worried so much, sorry to admit it, when I found out that I could play hoop, step and jump. What I mean is that if it is America, they will do it this way. If it were in Europe, they will do this way but if you go there after 250 to 400 years, how old are we?
“So I realize that I don’t want to go back to into detention again.”
Buhari, who recalled how as a military leader he clamped suspected looters into detention until they proved themselves innocent, said that these days, suspects deny their property until they are shown their bank accounts.
The President maintained that he had decided that property seized from suspects would be sold and the money kept in the treasury to prevent future administrations from returning them to their owners. He added:
“Now, what I do is when a person cannot justify what he has or fails to declare as the constitution specifies, some of them swear to Almighty God that their property doesn’t belong to them until we show them their bank accounts and their companies then we have some peace.
“So, we are recovering as much as we can under the system and this time around I said the properties will be sold and the money put in the treasury.
“The last time they were giving back their properties but this time around whoever comes after me no matter how generous he is, he cannot take money from the treasury give it to individuals. It will be impossible.”
The President also recalled his campaign promises and the effort his administration had made to meet them with success.