The acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Mohammed, who was yesterday sworn in by President Muhammadu Buhari, in flagrant contravention of the constitution, has inaugurated members of the National Assembly, governorship and state assembly election petition tribunals.
However, the event was boycotted by the justices of the Supreme Court, who may be protesting the imposition of Mr. Muhammad as CJN.
Of the 15 supreme court judges, only Sidi Bage attended the ceremony.
Nevertheless and unfazed Justice Muhammad urged the 250 appointed Chairmen and members of the Election Petition Tribunals to be guided by the fear of God in the performance of their duties.
He said, “I am delighted to address you all on thid occasion of the swearing-in ceremony for the newly appointed Chairmen and members of Election Petition Tribunals for the 2019 General Elections that is around the corner.
“As your lordships take the oath of office as chairmen and members of the Election Petition Tribunals, let me remind you that this oath is a solemn appeal to Almighty God.
“Therefore, it is God Almighty that you will be ultimately responsible to.
“Therefore, it is from this oath that your duties and responsibilities as chairmen and members of the Election Petition Tribunals in your various places of assignment spring forth and has a binding effect.
“This is an ethical undertaking to justice as well as upholding the rule of law in our courts.
“As such, I implore you to discharge your onerous duty diligently and with the fear of God Almighty.’’
Meanwhile the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the swearing in as illegal and a nullity and called on Mr. Tanko Muhammed to quit the office without delay.
In a statement signed by the party’s spokeman, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Saturday, PDP insisted that Justice Muhammed cannot function as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) as there is no vacancy in that office.
The statement added, “It is also imperative for Justice Tanko to agree that, having allowed himself to be used to desecrate the hallowed temple of justice, his oath of office and oath of allegiance, the only option left for him is to quit the bench.
“The PDP reminds Justice Tanko of his membership of the panel set up by the National Judicial Council (NJC), which on March 14, 2018, forced Justice Obisike Orji to quit the bench and go on a compulsory retirement, for allowing himself to be sworn in as the Acting Chief Judge of Abia State without the statutory recommendation of the NJC.
“From Justice Tanko’s first illegal assignment, which is the swearing-in of election tribunal Justices for the forthcoming elections, Nigerians can now see the raison d’etre for his illegal appointment.
“This action is in itself a nullity and we caution the said justices to be reminded of the popular maxim that something cannot be built on nothing.
“Nigerians can recall that the PDP had always alerted that President Buhari is bent on removing Justice Onnoghen so as to replace him with a pliable CJN that would help him uphold his rigging plots and achieve his self-succession bid, having realized that he cannot win in any free and fair electoral contest.
“The PDP invites the world to note that when Nigerians were in the trenches for this democracy, General Muhammadu Buhari, as he was then known, was in cahoots with the last dictator against the will the people. It is therefore not strange that today, President Buhari, once again, wants to subdue our democracy and subvert the rule of law.
“However, the PDP wants President Buhari to know that Nigerians, irrespective of tribe, creed or political leaning, will never allow anybody, no matter how highly placed, to push our nation to the abyss of anarchy.”