Okwe Obi, Abuja
Following the arraignment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, over alleged failed declaration of his assets, the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Professor Jerry Gana, has described the charge as “political gangsterism” on the part of the Federal government.
Gana, while addressing journalists in Abuja, advised the government to focus on external threats, internal security and economic challenges plaguing the country rather than go after perceived political enemies.
The former Minister of Information, who also cited the alarm raised by the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, on a threat to his life which he called on relevant authorities to look into, enjoined Nigerians to speak up.
He, however, explained that he had no problem with the trial but that it should be done within the ambits of the law, stressing that if not properly handled, it could truncate the forthcoming general elections.
His words: “The insecurity and economic situations have worsened while the fight against corruption of which the Federal government toasts her success is being prosecuted in a manner that tends towards the disruption of the constitutional order.
“Beyond politics, all lovers of democracy in the Federal Republic of Nigeria and well-meaning people must close ranks at this time to confront this emerging trend towards the institutionalisation of cultic principles and gangsterism in the political and governance processes, as they manifest in the following circumstances, and I quote just a few:
“The selective trial of the Senate President and head of the second arm of government;
“Now is the record-breaking commencement of trial against the person of the Chief Justice of the Federation and head of the judicial arm of government.
“Indeed, it is not only the judiciary that is under attack.
“All of the above are happening at this critical time, weeks to the all-important 2019 general elections tend to mark a clear indication of an agenda by the Federal government to muzzle both the bench and the bar, under circumstances that suggest anything but due process,” he said.
He continued: “The rule of law and social justice remain the bastion of democracy anywhere in the world. When the rule of law and social justice are violated, democracy lacks credibility and legitimacy.
“While we agree that corruption must be ruthlessly fought, government must never give the impression as if the fight against corruption is protective to those who belong to the ‘circle of leadership’ or ‘club of the protected,” arguing that “such tendencies would turn the war on corruption into a cult-like fiefdom where only the initiates are set free. This will mark a dangerous trend towards political gangsterism,” he noted.