South-South governors hold emergency meeting over Chief Justice Onnoghen corruption trial

L-R: Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa-Ibom State, and his Counterparts from Bayelsa and Chairman of the South-South Governors’ Forum, Hon. Seriake Dickson; Rivers, Barr. Nyesom Wike; and Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, at the Government House, Port-Harcourt, for a meeting of the South-South Governors’ Forum. Photo by Michael Owi.
FILE PHOTO: L-R: Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa-Ibom State, and his Counterparts from Bayelsa and Chairman of the South-South Governors’ Forum, Hon. Seriake Dickson; Rivers, Barr. Nyesom Wike; and Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, at the Government House, Port-Harcourt, for a meeting of the South-South Governors’ Forum. Photo by Michael Owi.

Six governors of Nigeria’s South-South region have called an emergency meeting to discuss the planned arraignment of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen.

The governors said they felt duty-bound to prevent the development from escalating in a country with jarring ethnic and tribal fault lines.

“It is a grave and dangerous escalation, coming a few weeks to the general elections,” said Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State in a statement Saturday night.

The meeting is scheduled for Sunday in Abuja, Mr Dickson’s spokesperson Fidelis Soriwei added in an e-mail announcing the planned caucus.

The five remaining governors of the South-South are Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom, Ben Ayade of Cross River, Nyesom Wike of Edo and Obaseki. Only Mr Obaseki is of the ruling All Progressives Congress, the rest belong to the Peoples Democratic Party, Nigeria’s main opposition entity.

Mr Onnoghen, from Cross River, has been accused of improper declaration of assets, with the Nigerian government filing six charges that it said violated the code of conduct law for public officers.

Mr Onnoghen denied all allegations against him. The top jurist is expected to be arraigned on Monday in Abuja.

Although Mr Dickson said he was yet to learn full derails of the corruption charges against Mr Onnoghen, the governor nonetheless warned that that “all efforts must be on deck to prevent the subversion and desecration of the ethos of democracy in Nigeria as nation moves nearer to the election.”

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