CJN’s SUSPENSION AN OUTRIGHT ABUSE TO THE RULE OF LAW
The circumstances surrounding the suspension and. immediate replacement of Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen by Justice Tanko Mohammed respectively, has thrown the nation into constitutional cum judicial crisis thereby heating up the polity as the general elections draw nearer. President Muhammadu Buhari who hinged his decision to suspend Onnoghen from office on an order he said was issued by the Code of Conduct Tribunal Headquarters , CCT, on January 23 has drawn plagues of criticisms from within and outside the legal circle as it came barely 8 hours after the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, announced his decision to inaugurate judges that will take charge of the 2019 election petition tribunals. Eyebrows have been raised questioning the motives behind this mafia move which is a pointer “that the next election is nothing more than a ritualistic outing to illegally confer life presidency (not just 4 years) on Buhari. There is no known basis, legal, constitutional or moral, to hurriedly bypass courts of law, the judicial process and court orders, to illegally remove the CJN and swear in an Acting CJN.
The EU, United States , United Kingdom and other nations recognizes the key role Nigeria plays in the sustenance of democracy in Africa and have expressed deep concerns over the recent happenings in the country.
The EU Electoral Observation Mission Nigeria 2019 strongly condemned this ill-timed action by the president and advised that the legal process provided by the constitution should be adhered to strictly. Furthermore, the US through its embassy issued a statement ‘We note widespread Nigerian criticism that this decision is unconstitutional and that it undermines the independence of the judicial branch. The foregoing undercuts the stated determination of government, candidates, and political party leaders to ensure that the elections proceed in a way that is free, fair, transparent, and peaceful – leading to a credible result. ‘We urge that the issues raised by this decision be resolved swiftly and peacefully in accordance with due process, full respect for the rule of law, and the spirit of the Constitution of Nigeria. Such action is needed urgently now to ensure that this decision does not cast a pall over the electoral process.’
Also the US, UK and other international observers have issued stern warning to all electoral offenders and their families including visa restrictions. In all ramifications President Buhari has faltered even before the elections through the flagrant abuse of power, disrespecting the rule of law and severed the relationship between the judiciary, legislative and executive arms of government which has consequently threatened our democracy.
The international community is encouraged to observe and act promptly to resist any attempt of rigging the elections by the present government as it is crystal clear that they have been rejected by the people and beckon on President Buhari to reverse this undemocratic decision and further halt his megalomaniac instincts and obscene acts of desperation to cling to power.
Nigeria is at yet another crossroad again and all hands are required to be on deck to save our democracy from the hands of dictators and tyrannical leaders.
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