Onnoghen: Atiku urges Nigerians to resist Buhari’s tyranny
Nigeria’s opposition People’s Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has called on Nigerians to “resist tyranny and protect democracy in Nigeria” after President Muhammadu Buhari suspended chief justice Walter Onnoghen last week.
The former Vice President described the action of the president as ‘a breach of the Constitution’.
Buhari on Friday suspended Onnoghen and simultaneously swore-in an acting CJN, Ibrahim Mohammed.
Buhari said the decision to suspend Justice Onnoghen was ordered by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over allegations that he failed to declare his assets.
Buhari added that security agencies had linked “suspicious transactions running into millions of dollars” to Onnoghen’s personal accounts.
He said the suspended CJN’s excuse that the non-declaration was due to mistake and forgetfulness was not known to law.
The suspension has been roundly criticized by individuals and groups within and outside the country. Many critics accused Buhari of trying to hamstrung the judiciary and put it in a position where it can do the bidding of the ruling All Progressives Congress in case the outcomes of the presidential elections are disputed.
Nigeria will hold presidential elections on February 16. The incumbent President, Buhari, faces a stiff challenge from Abubakar.
Abubakar said the suspension is “alien to democratic rule and more in line with that of a military dictator.”
According to the PDP presidential candidate, the issue at stake is not whether what Onnoghen did is right or wrong but whether it is lawful for the government to act the way it did.
“The issue at stake is not whether the Chief Justice is guilty or not, but whether his removal from office has been done in accordance with the process specified in our constitution,” Abubakar said.
He said Onnoghen’s suspension by Buhari is “serial disregard of court orders” and accused his government of obeying “their own whims and operate by separate rules outside the well-established constitutional order and the rule of law.”
“To create a condition that allows the constitution and the rule of law to become secondary to any other agenda is to pave the way for tyranny,” he added.
The former Vice President, therefore, warned the government against taking further actions that were capable of destabilising the nation’s democracy.
A government spokesman said on Sunday that the Onnoghen’s suspension is temporary’ and that it was expedient for the government to act in such manner because “he cannot sit as both defendant and umpire in his own matter.”
“No legal system allows for such self-interested adjudication,” Garba Shehu said.
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