The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar on Friday called President Muhammadu Buhari’s suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen “an act of dictatorship”.
Atiku said the decision was a “brazen dictatorial act” and “the latest action in the ongoing rape of our nation’s hard-earned democracy”.
President had earlier announced that Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen would be suspended pending the conclusion of a trial on charges of failing to declare foreign currency bank accounts.
Atiku however, accused him of trying to manipulate the judiciary, which would rule on any dispute in the forthcoming elections on February 16.
President Buhari defended the suspension, saying the government was keeping its promise on the fight against corruption.
But Abubakar said the suspension was “an anti-democratic act” and “geared towards affecting the outcome of the 2019 presidential elections”.
He added: “This brazen dictatorial act is the latest action in the ongoing rape of our nation’s hard-earned democracy by those who dined with anti-democratic forces”.
The decision is “symptomatic of the increasing desperation that President Buhari and the cabal pulling the strings have as February 16, 2019 draws near”, he said.
Onnoghen on Thursday secured a Court of Appeal injunction ordering the lower Code of Conduct Tribunal to halt the case, pending a ruling on his application to dismiss the charges.
Atiku questioned why due process was not allowed to run its course and called for the international community to threaten “strong consequences” for anyone involved.
Below is a full text of Atiku’s reaction to the suspension of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen.
“The Purported Suspension of CJN Onnoghen is an Act of Dictatorship Taken too Far
“Abuja, Nigeria, 25 Jan 2019: The purported suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari, is an anti-democratic act which I reject in its entirety and call on Justice Onnoghen and the judiciary to resist with every legal and constitutional means that they can muster.
This brazen dictatorial act is the latest action in the ongoing rape of our nation’s hard-earned democracy by those who dined with anti-democratic forces, and is symptomatic of the increasing desperation that President Buhari and the cabal pulling the strings have as February 16, 2019 draws near.
“The fact that the unlawful suspension of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen was announced just as it became public knowledge that the CJN was constituting the election petition tribunals is not lost on discerning Nigerians and the international community. This act of desperation is geared towards affecting the outcome of the 2019 Presidential elections.Indeed, it is not just the CJN that has been “suspended”, it is the Nigerian Constitution that has been infracted and, in effect, suspended, under the guise of the suspension of the CJN.
“The case involving the legality or otherwise of the charges against Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen is in court, as it should be. So far, the judiciary has ruled in Justice Onnoghen’s favour. So, why not allow the court to adjudicate on the matter? What is the pressing urgency?
“I want to seize this opportunity to call for unity amongst the judiciary. Do not let the Muhammadu Buhari administration divide you. Do not let this government turn you against yourselves. The judiciary is the last hope of the common man and the defender of our democracy.
“I also urge the international community to follow the commendable example of the United States and the United Kingdom by intervening to make those involved in this undemocratic act know that their actions will have consequences. Strong consequences.
“And to the Nigerian electorate, I call on you to save your beloved country from dictatorship by voting against President Muhammadu Buhari’s desperate war against the judiciary. Our country is falling apart under the leadership of President Buhari and it is time to stand up for democracy.
Presidential Candidate of PDP & Vice President of Nigeria, 1999-2007”