Nigerians under the auspices of Arise for A New Nigeria stormed the streets of London, at 10, Downing Street, close to the Prime Minister’s office, to express solidarity with their President Muhammadu Buhari over the suspension of Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
They also presented a letter addressed to Prime Minister Theresa May, in which they urged Britain to support Buhari’s anti-corruption fight, especially concerning Onnoghen's suspension.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Andrew Kobani, President of the group, restated their commitment to supporting Nigeria’s present administration, as it has shown determination to “reduce corrupt practices”.
The letter read: "Madam Prime Minister may wish to note that Nigeria is experiencing a turbulent period in the fight against corruption as initiated by the administration of Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
"Suffice to note that since 2015, the present administration has initiated measures aimed at reducing corrupt practices in the conduct of government business at all tiers of governance. This effort has yielded positive results to the admiration of the bulk of Nigerians and the consternation of a select few that have benefited from the rot in the system.
"Undeterred, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has carried on with enthusiasm and a determination to see that structural defects are fixed to curb the rot in the system for the betterment of Nigeria as a country.
"Madam Prime Minister may also wish to note that the bane of underdevelopment in Nigeria is as a result of the lackadaisical attitude of previous governments in the fight against corruption that has resulted in the wanton disregard for accountability and transparency in the conduct of government businesses and by extension governance in Nigeria.
"Since 2015 when the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari took over the affairs of the state in Nigeria, Nigeria has recorded tremendous progress in governance evident in the dividends of democracy trickling down the ladder.
"Madam Prime Minister, however, the present administration has encountered numerous challenges from individuals and organisations that have subverted the system through nefarious ways and means all in the quest to portray the Muhammadu Buhari administration in poor light in an attempt to pitch the populace against the government to fulfil their personal agenda of causing unrest and disaffection in the country.”
Addressing Onnoghen’s suspension, the letter continued: “The recent case of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, who violated the law in declaring his assets as stipulated by the law has further emphasized the level of rot in the system.
"A particular segment of the Nigerian society has cried wolf where none exists and painted a picture of political persecution, forgetting that Nigeria was on the brinks of imminent collapse due the activities of a few that have benefitted from the rot in the system.
"Madam Prime Minister, we are through this medium soliciting assistance from the United Kingdom in the war against corruption in Nigeria, as initiated by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in recent times.
"A vivid example can be seen in the instance where the Chief Judicial Official in Nigeria, either by omission or commission, failed to declare a part of his assets running into millions of dollars. The Chief Justice of Nigeria as the number one judicial officer in the country for inexplicable reasons did not declare a part of his assets before the Code of Conduct Bureau in Nigeria. The CJN cited ‘forgetfulness and mistake’ as the reasons for the non-declaration.
"Madam Prime Minister, the non-declared items are bank accounts with balances that run into millions of pounds sterling and dollars. This is too much to be right in our considered opinion. As the number one judicial officer in the country, it is wholly untenable for such an excuse, unless for deliberate reasons.
"This untoward display of acts inimical to the progress of Nigeria has necessitated the kind and timely intervention of the Prime Minister and the British government is assisting Nigeria in the war against corruption. If, not, corruption will kill Nigeria at this rate. And that would not happen under the leadership of Madam Prime Minister.
"Madam Prime Minister may be aware that political jobbers and ethnic champions have given the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria ethnic and religious actions, but in truth, it was a timely intervention aimed at saving the judicial arm of government in Nigeria further embarrassment as a result of the unethical conduct of the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
"This letter is an SOS, as well as a reminder to Madam Prime Minister, Theresa May, and UK Secretary for African Affairs, Mrs Harriett Baldwin, that Nigeria would return to the brinks if steps, just like this, are not taken to arrest the cankerworm of corruption that has eaten deep into governance in Nigeria.
"It is our considered opinion that the United Kingdom as an ally of Nigeria cannot afford to watch as Nigeria goes to the brinks. It must render that assistance to the government of Nigeria that has made substantial inroads in the fight against corruption.”