The South-South chapter of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has decried the purported suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari, even as it declared the appointment of Justice Muktar Tanko Muhammed as acting CJN as illegal.
Karl Chinedu Uchegbu, South-South Chairman of the civil group in a statement made available to banneronlinenews.com, said the episode is a plot to plunge the nation into crisis in other to sabotage the general elections slated to hold February and March this year.
The full text of the statement is reproduced hereunder
Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO)
South South Zone
21 Igboukwu Street, D/Line, Port Harcourt.
Suspension of CJN: A Palace Coup Against Nigeria’s Democracy.
The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), South South Zone, condemns in its totality, the purported suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onoghen and the illegal appointment of Muktar Tanko as the acting Chief Justice, describing the action as unconstitutional and a plot to plunge the nation into crisis in other to sabotage the general elections slated to hold February and March this year.
In a statement issued by the Chairman of the South South zone of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) , Karl Chinedu Uchegbu said, “It is unfortunate that the Executive Branch of Government purports to suspend the CJN on the basis of an alleged ex-parte order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal – the same Tribunal that, to the knowledge of the Executive, had, only the previous day, Tuesday, 22 January 2019 adjourned its proceedings to Monday, 28 January 2019 and has before it a Motion on Notice that is yet to be argued, seeking the same reliefs as were contained in the purported ex-parte application, to wit, the suspension of the CJN, amongst others.”
Continuing, Karl Chinedu Uchegbu disclosed, ” It would have been more honourable for APC to lose the forthcoming election and relinquish power. This attempt to throw Nigeria into crisis is unfair. President Jonathan lost election and he left office honourably. This contrived crisis is sad. I hope there will be unanimity of reasoned response to this infamy. The people of Pakistan, especially the legal minds rose against General Pervez Musharraf in 2007 when he removed the Chief Justice improperly. If there’s no clear statement and action in Nigeria in this respect, we can as well say goodbye to democracy because it is an assault on the country’s sovereignty for an arm of government to resort to self-help so blatantly and shamelessly. I do not support corruption of any type but a recourse to desperation speaks to bad faith”.
“There is no doubt that a palace coup has just taken place in Nigeria. The people must rise up in defence of Democracy. I am convinced that having seen failure President Buhari is pushing towards Anarchy to force a Military Takeove to achieve his “Dogs & Baboons will soak in their blood” prophecy” the CLO statement said.
The illegality of President Buhari’s actions can be gleaned from Section 292 of 1999 Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, which states:
(1) A judicial officer shall not be removed from his office or appointment before his age of retirement except in the following circumstances –
(a) in the case of –
(i) Chief Justice of Nigeria, President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Grand Kadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and President, Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, by the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate.”
We wish to remind Nigerians that on May 29th 2015, President Buhari swore to protect the provisions of this Constitution. Now that he has resorted to violent breech of te constitution, in a desperate attempt to perpetuate his stranglehold on Nigeria, it is time for Nigerians to rise up and take to streets in defence of democracy.
Karl Chinedu Uchegbu
Chairman, South South Zone
Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO).