President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to kick out the embattled Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen from office, has been described as an attempt to overthrow the nation’s constitution.
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) in a statement on Saturday averred that the president is undermining democracy.
Onnoghen was charged before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Jan. 14, with offences bordering on non declaration of assets and was suspended on Friday. In his place, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed was sworn in as the Acting CJN.
Agbakoba said that all actions ought to be stayed, pending the determination of several cases and appeals filed on the issue before various courts which ordered maintenance of status quo.
He said that the suspension contravenes the ruling of CCT on the matter.
“The CCT itself, adjourned proceedings in respect of Justice Onnoghen’s matter in order to determine if it has jurisdiction to try Justice Onnoghen; the suspension contravenes the ruling.
“There are at least six pending cases in superior courts of Nigeria and one in the Court of Appeal.
“All these cases ruled that Justice Onnoghen should remain in office pending when all cases against him are resolved.
“In any case Section 292 of the 1999 Constitution sets out the procedure for removing or suspending the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“The power to suspend or remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria vests in the Senate side of the National Assembly,” he said. Agbakoba called for reversal of the suspension.
Other Nigerians have taken to the social media to condemn the action of the president, saying that the presient has not been weaned of his dictatorial penchant.
According to them, the president’s action coincides with the plans to constitute members of the electoral tribunal to look into grievances that may around from the coming elections.
They said that the suspension of Onnoghen and appointment of Mohammed as Acting CJN did not follow due process of law.
“It is insulting to ignore the order of the Court of Appeal asking parties in the suit between the CCT and the CJN to maintain status quo.
“As the law stands, Justice Mohammed Tanko was not recommended to the president by the Nigerian Judicial Council for appointment; therefore, such an appointment is unlawful,” one lawyer stated.