On Friday President Buhari took a decision that sent shock-waves across the country, it was definitely one that was not expected by most watchers or observers of Nigerian politics.
On Friday, the President announced the suspension Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen. The President stated that his decision was based on the recommendation of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT)
However, the decision drew all sort of reactions from Nigerians and with many condemning the President with some even going as far as calling him a dictator.
It as now been reported that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, will probably call an emergency meeting of members of the upper house on Tuesday to discuss the CJN suspension. Some have stated that one of the options that members of the Senate will probably discuss is the potential impeachment of the president.
“I have received a message encouraging lawmakers to come on Tuesday, The idea now is to use the numerical significance of the non-APC senators to oppose the suspension and release a strong statement,” a lawmaker said.
Also appearing not to approve of President Buhari’s actions, the United States of America has voiced its concern over the CJN’s removal just weeks to the general elections, the United State embassy made this known in a statement, which reads:
“The Embassy of the United States is deeply concerned by the impact of the executive branch’s decision to suspend and replace the Chief Justice and head of the judicial branch without the support of the legislative branch on the eve of national and state elections.
“We note widespread Nigerian criticism that this decision is unconstitutional and that it undermines the independence of the judicial branch.
“That undercuts the stated determination of the 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.”
However, explaining his actions, President Buhari stated that it was necessary to have a change at the top of the justice system, the President insists that the CJN should have done the honourable thing by removing himself from office since the issue of his asset declaration and unexplained money found in his accounts were first discovered.
“Although the allegations in the petition are grievous enough in themselves, the security agencies have since then traced other suspicious transactions running into millions of dollars to the CJN’s personal accounts, all undeclared or improperly declared as required by law. Perhaps more worrisome is the Chief Justice of Nigeria’s own written admission to the charges that he indeed failed to follow the spirit and letter of the law in declaring his assets, citing ’’mistake’’ and ’’forgetfulness’’ which are totally unknown to our laws as defences in the circumstances of his case.
“One expected that with his moral authority so wounded, by these serious charges of corruption, more so by his own written admission, Mr Justice Walter Onnoghen would have acted swiftly to spare our Judicial Arm further disrepute by removing himself from superintending over it while his trial lasted.
“It is against this background that I have received the Order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal directing me to suspend the Chief Justice pending final determination of the cases against him.
“It also explains why I am not only complying immediately but with some degree of relief for the battered sensibilities of ordinary Nigerians whose patience must have become severely over-taxed by these anomalies.
“In line with this administration’s avowed respect for the Rule of Law, I have wholeheartedly obeyed the Order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal dated 23rd January 2019. Accordingly, I hereby suspend the Honourable Mr Justice Walter Nkanu Samuel Onnoghen, GCON as the Chief Justice of Nigeria pending final determination of the case against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
“In further compliance with the same Order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, I hereby invite Honourable Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed JSC, being the next most Senior Justice in the Supreme Court, to come forward to take the Judicial Oath as Chief Justice of Nigeria in an Acting Capacity. Fellow Nigerians, we can only stand a chance to win the fight against Corruption, and position our dear nation for accelerated development when we stand together to contend against it.”
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