Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has described the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Onoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari, as a coup against democracy and a deliberate attempt to endanger our hard-won democracy.
Saraki, in a statement personally signed by him stated that the suspension was another act of desperation by President Buhari. He noted that by the suspension of the CJN, Buhari has acted outside the provision of the constitution, has exercised the powers which he does not have and that this action amounted to gross misconduct.
“This action is capable of undermining the nation’s judiciary, subverting the constitution, intimidating judges of all the courts of record, and creating uncertainty in the electoral process.
“By unilaterally suspending the CJN without following the provision of the constitution, President Buhari has sent a dangerous signal to the entire world that Nigeria is no longer a democratic nation and that we have returned to the old, jaded era of military dictatorship .
“Our constitution makes no provision for suspension of the nation’s highest judicial officer. The constitution provides a clear process for removal of the CJN and specify the roles of the three arms of government, beginning from the National Judicial Council (NJC), the National Assembly and lastly, the Presidency, have different roles to play in that process. There is no condition under which the President can usurp the powers of other arms of government. I do not know where the President and his advisers got this idea of suspending the CJN on the so-called order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal but this is novel, disingenuous and alien to our laws. It is strange that President Buhari is claiming to be taking orders from a Tribunal which has been ordered by a superior court to halt all actions on the trial.
“With this action, President Buhari has initiated a process the consequence of which nobody can predict. They have precipitated a constitutional crisis.
“At this point, all democratic institutions in the country, the international community and democrats across the world should rise against this blatant act of impunity. We should jointly condemn this retrogressive, uncivilized and despotic measure”, Saraki stated.
He however call on President Buhari to immediately reverse this decision and allow the due process of law to take its natural course in determining the guilt or otherwise as well as the suitability of Hon. Justice Onnoghen to continue as the head of the nation’s judiciary.
Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, CON
President of the Senate