The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, on Monday, condemned the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Abubakar described the decision of Buhari to suspend Onnoghen as “a breach of the constitution”.
He spoke at a world press conference on the suspension of Onnoghen held in Abuja.
The Waziri of Adamawa likened the decision of the Buhari government to that of “military dictatorship”.
According to Abubakar, the issue at stake was not whether what Justice Onnoghen did was right or wrong but whether it is lawful for the government to act the way it did.
He claimed that Buhari has set a new record that was never recorded even during the dark days of the military.
Abubakar warned the government against taking further actions that were capable of destabilizing the nation’s democracy.
He however commended the international community for their stance on the recent suspension of Justice Onnoghen.
According to Abubakar, “I commend all Nigerians and friends of Nigeria who have expressed outrage over the unlawful removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, an action, which constitutes a flagrant breach of our constitution and a frontal assault on our democracy. I want to note the universal condemnation of this unlawful act by all Nigerians, as well as the international community.
“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.
“Without doubt, the fight against corruption is crucial to good governance and the progress of our country. In this context, the issue of corruption as it relates to the institution of the judiciary is even more crucial. As the last refuge of the common man, our judiciary must not only be above suspicion but must also be seen to be manifestly above board.
The issue at stake is not whether the Chief Justice is guilty or not, but whether his removal from office has been done in accordance with the process specified in our constitution.
“As a democrat, I must say, without equivocation, that no mission or goal, no matter how noble or well intended, should be used as a pretext for the subversion of our democracy and our democratic institutions. To create a condition that allows the constitution and the rule of law to become secondary to any other agenda is to pave the way for tyranny.
History is replete with odious dictators whose path to dictatorship started with statements of good intentions. We must therefore remain vigilant in defense of our democracy.
“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.”