The Oasis Reporters
January 29, 2019
Before delving into the proprietary of data protection and professional integrity based on the bedrock of the unfair and one-sided media trial of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, let us examine first, the facts on ground.
The Nigerian social media scene is currently awash with the leaked copies of Onnoghen’s bank statements, the confidentiality of banker/ customer relationship that has been abused by the powers that be today. Huge sums of money in foreign currency have been quoted. Onnoghen’s purportedly handwritten statements have been widely shared in an attempt to convict him without evidence in the court of public opinion.
There’s actually an explanation on Onnoghen’s purported wealth, he being a civil servant serving in the judiciary.
Malik Shabazz, a Nigerian medical doctor provides an insight, and he wrote :
“I noticed someone made a post about it (the Onnoghen case) and tried to obfuscate the truth. So I decided to snoop around a little and found the Assets Declaration form submitted by Justice Walter Onnoghen to the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB.
The report being quoted said “turnover” on accounts, which means that all the monies that have passed through those accounts, for some up to 14 years. It is therefore not a lump sum found as a sitting deposit in the account. A customer can deposit and withdraw ten thousand naira, ten times in a month. The Bank statement would record it as ten transactions. The turnover would consequently read, 100,000 Naira (one hundred thousand naira, only). It does not mean that the customer has that bulk 100,000 Naira. What he probably has is just 10,000 Naira .
‘See attached’, meaning that the reader should continue, more facts are at the back of the first page.
The Onnoghen response, with some Interpretation for those who can’t quite make out his writing. Also, the position of the CCB law.
I will explain what he wrote for those who can’t read it clearly
On how and why he opened accounts, stated that he had a private practice in the 1980s from whence he started to gather ForEx. He also stated that since the law mandated that public officers should not maintain foreign accounts, he opened local foreign accounts and transferred all his savings into those accounts , $10,000 per transaction due to the limit on inflows per transaction.
He also stated that the withdrawals on the accounts were for paying the school fees of his kids abroad.
He also went further to mention that he invested in a ForEx Trading company and has been receiving steady returns. The names of the ForEx trading companies were mentioned in his submissions.
It is worthy to note that the CCB allows for him to make such submissions upon request , even when as he mentioned, his last submission had not expired as it covers a period of 4 years”.
In other words, what Dr. Shabazz just stated is that Justice Onnoghen was in private practice before joining the bench. Therefore he had the right to own accounts, including domiciliary accounts as a private citizen who was trading in foreign exchange, like the northern foreign exchange traders one finds at Sabo , Lagos, Sabo Ibadan, Wapa, Kano, etc.
The fact that he later joined the bench to become a civil servant cannot obliterate the fact that he once was a foreign exchange trader.
Secondly, as any other Nigerian, even in the judiciary, nothing stops the learned judge from investing his money. It is a common and acceptable practice for civil servants to invest their money in shares, farming or whatever pursuits they may deem fit, as long as it is within the confines of the law.
Therefore, Walter Onnoghen decided to invest his money in foreign exchange trading. Not everyone can invest in goat rearing, fish farming, reptiles training or Palm oil trading. He chose foreign exchange trading, a business he was into prior to joining the bench.
Nigerians must realize the damage negative propaganda does to our image. Not every wealth creator is a thief. Not every poor man is a saint. Mudslinging cannot be a fair past time.
Having gone through the Onnoghen statement, nowhere was a hidden 55 houses across Nigeria mentioned.
“The sort of lies and obfuscation of truth that the social media operatives of the All Progressives Congress – APC peddle on social media makes one wonder if they ever went to a school in the first place”, Malik Shabazz went on to say.
And Malik Shabazz should know. As a medical doctor, he perfectly understands oaths and the utter lowliness of confidential reports being released to the public to damage the reputation of someone else. Naturally, he finds this repugnant.
Yes, the general public has the right to know about the details of people who serve them. Good enough, former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan graciously signed the freedom of information act into law.
Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen is serving the Nigerian people. So is President Muhammadu Buhari. They are all employees of the Nigerian people and no one is superior or inferior as Nigerians. President Muhammadu Buhari has for instance, spent several months during his four year tenure to lapse on May 29, 2019, based on the votes of Nigerians in 2015 when we sent Dr. Goodluck Jonathan back to Otuoke, his village to become an ordinary citizen like the rest of us, on medical tourism abroad.
Can we in the same breath request for the foreign exchange expenditures on his overseas medical treatments as well ? After all, we have hospitals, even Teaching Hospitals in very many cities in Nigeria. Would it be fair for Nigerians to demand for his treatment expenses ?
In like manner, as social media executives against Onnoghen are sharing the assets declaration details of the Chief Justice, in the spirit of fairness, can the handwritten statements on assets declaration by the president be made available to the public via the social media as well ?
Written by Greg Abolo.
Additional information from Dr. Malik Shabazz.