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CJN Onnogheh: How democracies die

I’m not focused on saving  the retired CJN, Walter Onnoghen. I’m more interested in saving the judiciary, even if Onnoghen had been the beneficiary.

I still advise each one of us to get the book “How Democracies Die”. You can buy from Amazon too. It’s a 2018 book by two Harvard professors. Our democracy has been thrown out through the window, but we know it not. Sadly, as the erudite scholars point out, while we expect that democracy only dies when the military Generals shoot their ways to power and marshal music takes over the airwaves as it used to be, democracies die today in the hands of beneficiaries of critical institutions of democracy, who turn around to undo the same institutions that brought them to power.

We don’t know what has befallen this country yet. If NJC were serious, they would have also asked both Tanko and Onnoghen to take the door. But in regularising the PMB usurpation of NJC’s role in the emergence of CJN or CJN, democracy died. Sadly, we know it not.

Mike Ozekhome (SAN) Affirmed My Narrative On Onnoghen’s Fate

Mike Ozekhome, human rights lawyer, says Walter Onnoghen resigned as chief justice of Nigeria (CJN) because he knew his fate had been pre-determined by the cabal.

Onnoghen turned in his resignation letter on Thursday, a day after the National Judicial Council (NJC) recommended that he be compulsorily retired.

In a piece Ozekhome wrote on the travails of the former CJN, the senior lawyer said Onnoghen was a victim of politics.

“I knew it would come sooner than later. When Justice Walter Onnoghen’s travails started in January, I predicted that the cabal was out to rubbish him. They desired to bespatter him with the paintbrush of shame, odium and obloquy in such a way as to make him visibly unfit for the position of the CJN. They went after his jugular, using the CCB/CCT,” Ozekhome said.

“The CCT was unrelenting: it discarded its earlier precedents; ignored court rulings barring it from trying Onnoghen. It was the case of the falcon not hearing the falconer.

“The Court of Appeal became complicit. It refused to deliver judgments in Onnoghen’s cases argued before it over six weeks ago. Nigerians watched Onnoghen being mob-lynched. Onnoghen was tried in the media, criminalized, humiliated.

“So, Onnoghen, faced with the reality of the situation, knew that his faith had been pre-determined by the cabal, signed, sealed and delivered.”

Ozekhome also accused the NJC of jumping into conclusion over the case.

He said the council acted on unproven allegations and that any attempt to harass and humiliate the judiciary is setting a stage for bidding democracy farewell.

“Otherwise, how can NJC hold that it decided not to delve into the allegations, relating to assets declaration leveled against Onnoghen because they were subjudice, yet convicted him on the petitions written by EFCC and others, when the said petitions remained in the realm of mere unproven allegations?” he asked.

Buhari is destroying our democracy.

If the NASS did not carry out landmark electoral reforms, which included constittution amendments, I doubt that PMB could have emerged President. Yet, NASS was the first victim of the emerging despotism.

Standing outside my shell today, I’ve just been wondering if we could have reached this sorry pass if the nation had risen in unism when the onslaught against NASS began in June 2015.

They came after Saraki, many felt it served him right. They came for Ekweremadu in serial onslaughts, many felt it served him right. They tasted the waters further by raiding the residences of serving High Court and Supreme Court justices, and many clapped still, claiming Saint Buhari was purging the Corrupt Judiciary. Emboldened by their “successful” esapades like serial rapists, they even ventured into the hallowed Chambers to carthe away the mace in an otherwise most secure neighborhood in Nigeria and many clapped. Even the man that led that assualt live on NTA wants to become a presiding officer in the same hallowed chamber he desecrated.

Not done, they came hunting for Saraki and Ekweremadu like Boko Haram’s Sheet and Osama Bin Laden, right in their official quarters, and some people didn’t see anything wrong with that. They went to where Distinguished Abaribe was cutting his hair at Transcorp and carried him away for a reason not disclosed till today, yet some people clapped because he’s Igbo. Then they came for the NASS itself in masked faces, and we allowed them to sweep it under the carpet, with some shameless and undiscerning minds hailing.

Not done, the greatest beneficiaries of the electoral reforms under the PDP refused to return the same gesture by signing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018 four good times. We didn’t see the need to take to the streets. That was when the opposition lost the 2019 election.

Now, they came after Onnoghen, and they were allowed to throw him overboard as feast for the sharks because, to some of us, the South South and Bar and Bench should have risen in his defence.

On the day Ekweremadu and Saraki were arraigned over phantom Senate Standing Rules forgery (that was at the outset of what has become the emerging despotism), he told Nigerians that neither himself nor Saraki was on trial, but the nation’s democracy. He also added that it was both of them on that day, but it could be anybody else tomorrow. Yet, many bayed for their blood and called for their heads. Luckily they’ve survived so far. But many have not been that lucky.

Like Chidi, I have never been as afraid for the future of this nation and the lots of my little ones in it as I’m today. I foresee a grim, dim future for our democracy and nay, our nation unless….


“This is how we tend to think of democracies dying: at the hands of men with guns. In a classic coup d’etat, military leaders seize power, put a sudden and violent end to constitutional rule, and establish a dictatorship.

“But there is another way to break a democratic. It is less dramatic, but it can be equally destructive. In this second route, democracies die not at the hands of army generals, but rather at the hands of elected leaders: Presidents or prime minister who subvert the very democratic process (I wouldd add institutions) that brought them to power”
– Steven Levitky & Daniel Ziblatt in How Democracies Die

I thank Uche Anichukwu for the above.

Meanwhile The circle is completed. The Ahmadu Bello Ideology.

President: North.
Senate President: North.
Speaker: North.
CJN: North.
Pres. Court of Appeal: North.
CJ Federal High Court: North
IGP: North.
DG DSS: North.
DG NIA: North.
CG NSCDC: North.
Minister Defence: North.
NSA: North.
Minister Finance: North.
Minister Aviation: North.
Chief of Air Staff: North.
Chief of Army Staff: North.
CG Customs: North.
CG Immigration: North.
CG Prisons: North.
Chairman CCB: North.
Chairman CCT: North.
Chairman EFCC: North.
Director of NFIU: North.

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