Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has described as a face-saving measure the decision by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to pull the brakes on its electioneering campaign over Justice Walter Onnoghen’s suspension, saying the PDP’s campaign never gained traction in the first instance.
Responding to reporters’ question in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, on the suspension of PDP’s campaign, the minister said: ”Which campaign? Their campaign was over a long time ago. There is nothing to suspend. We said it that their campaign had floundered. You can now see. What they are doing now is looking for a face-saving way out of a dead and buried campaign.”
He wondered why the PDP is crying more than the bereaved, and asked the opposition party whether Justice Onnoghen is one of its members.
“And in any event, let’s ask them this question: Is there something that they know that we don’t know? Is there something between them and the suspended CJN? Otherwise, we did not see why they should suspend their campaign anyway, but I can understand that their campaign was bound to end this way,” Mohammed said.
He said while Nigerians have been trooping out in large numbers wherever the President’s campaign ship berths, the PDP supporters have been dwindling by the day.
On the outcry by some people and organisations over Onnoghen’s suspension, the minister said it was troubling that those who are crying foul over the suspension of the CJN have actually ignored the fact that a serving Chief Justice not only amassed millions of dollars in his account, but admitted that he forgot to declare same in his Assets Declaration Form.
“For anybody who read Mr. President’s address yesterday, two things stood out. The first is that additional evidence has just been revealed that the suspended CJN refused to declare millions of dollars in his possession. More worrisome is the fact that when the suspended CJN was confronted with the petition that he failed to declare his assets, he added that it was a mistake, that he forgot.
“Now, I would have been a happier person if the same people who are now crying tyranny and dictatorship could really address the issue raised by the President, in his address on Friday, that additional investigations have revealed that several millions of dollars were found in the CJN’s account. And when the CJN was confronted with the original allegation, he admitted that he forgot to make full declaration, and that it was a mistake,” he said.
On the constitutionality of CJN’s suspension, he faulted those claiming that the President acted outside of the Constitution, adding that in suspending Onnoghen, the President merely carried out an order of a court of competent jurisdiction directing him to suspend the Chief Justice, pending the final determination of the cases against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.