Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) not to throw the country into an avoidable crisis over their alleged desperation to sack the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Atiku in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, said that the principle of separation of powers remains sacrosanct in a democracy.
The PDP candidate noted that the alleged plot to remove Justice Onnoghen is a pre-emptive move against the bench in the run-up to the February 16 presidential poll.
“We have just been made aware of the plot by President Muhammadu Buhari the All Progressives Congress (APC) to sack Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, using flimsy assets declaration issues as a pretext.
“We are aware that there are plans to arraign Justice Onnoghen before the Justice Danladi Yakubu Umar-led Code of Conduct Tribunal on Monday, January, 14, 2019.
“The charge against Onnoghen, we understand has already been filed and served on him last Friday at his official residence in Abuja preparatory to his appearance at the Tribunal.
“But we warn that despite the clandestine meetings in the highest echelon of the APC and also involving some top officials of the Federal Government which include the Code of Conduct Tribunal, neither Buhari nor the APC can re-write the Nigerian Constitution just because of its impending defeat at the February 16, presidential election.
Heavens did not fall when PDP lost to the APC in 2015. And heavens will not fall now that the APC is sure to lose to the PDP, seeing that the APC’s plan to rig in the forthcoming elections will not pull through,” he said. The former vice president argued that even if the allegations against Onnoghen are true, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) was wrong to have referred the petition to the CCT.
According to him, since judicial officers are disciplined by the National Judicial Commission (NJC), the CCB ought to have referred the case to the NJC.
He noted that Buhari’s plan was to get Onnoghen out of the way and to appoint an Acting CJN, whom he views as pliant and who will be made to superintend over election petitions in case his alleged rigging plan fails.
“Buhari and his APC-led government should not emasculate the judiciary as they tried to do the National Assembly and was resisted by the President of the Senate, Abubakar Bukola Saraki. This is a brazen day light assault on the judiciary because he (Buhari wants) a pliable acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to sit on his election petition because he has seen the signal that he will lose the February 16 presidential election,” Atiku said.