Mr. Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has said how we (Nigerians) react to the unlawful suspension of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari, will determine the fate of our democracy.
He said this in a State of the Nation address in Abuja on Monday, accusing Buhari of clamping down on the judiciary.
The former vice president said with the suspension of Walter Onnoghen as the chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), Buhari has set a new precedent that has no equivalence in the nation’s history, “not even in the darkest days of military dictatorship.”
Mr. Onnoghen was on Friday unlawfully suspended by the president, who replaced him with Mr. Tanko Muhammed.
The CJN is facing trial for alleged false assets declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which on Monday indefinitely suspended the trial, following an order to that effect by the Appeal Court.
Mr. Abubakar said, “Our dear country is passing through a difficult moment. How we react to this challenge in the following days will determine the fate of our democracy, which has been brought to great peril by this needless crisis engineered by a government that is unwilling to subject its conducts to the requirements of our constitution,” he said.
“I need to state that this latest action by General Muhammadu Buhari falls squarely within the pattern of executive lawlessness that has now been firmly turned into statecraft by the APC government.
“The serial disregard of court orders, and consequent violation of constitutionally guaranteed human rights of our citizens confirms beyond all doubt that General Buhari and his government would rather obey their own whims and operate by separate rules outside the well-established constitutional order and the rule of law. It scarcely requires emphasis that this behaviour is alien to democratic rule and more in line with that of a military dictator.
“We are all witnesses to how this government has serially assaulted the National Assembly, a separate arm of government that represents the bastion of our democracy. However, with this attack on the judiciary, General Buhari has set a new precedent in our democracy that has no equivalence in our history, not even in the darkest days of military dictatorship. This cannot be allowed to stand.”
Mr. Onnoghen’s illegal suspension has been overwhelmingly condemned by Nigerians, lawyers, civil societies and the international community.
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