Judex Okoro, Calabar
Palpable tension has gripped residents of Calabar metropolis as NGOs and some political-support group have threatened to shut down Calabar by organising a one-million man-match protest against the suspension of the CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
The groups which include Cross River for Good Governance, (CRFGG), Arise For Onoghen, (AFO), and Friends of Atiku, (FOA), have vowed to ensure that justice is seen to have been done in Walter Onoghen’ removal.
The groups described the action of the Federal government as tyrannical and a further emasculation of the judiciary to feather the political interest of the ruling APC.
The Secretary of Friends of Atiku, Mr Austine Ibok, who disclosed this in an interactive session with newsmen in Calabar over the weekend, said it was incredible and an utter violation of the constitutional provisions for the President Muhammadu Buhari to just wake up and suspend the CJN, Walter Ononghen based on advice from the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.
Citing section 292 of the amended constitution, which states that the President can only remove the CJN with 2/3 of Senate resolution, Ibok, said it was shocking and abuse of constitutional powers for the president to have acted otherwise even when the matter was before a competent Court of Appeal.
According to him, the FOA and other eminent Cross Riverians reject totally the illegal suspension of Walter Onoghen and demand for the reversal of such a politically-motivated decision that was capable of derailing the country’s nascent democracy.
He said: “We totally reject the illegal suspension of CJN Walter Onoghen by President Buhari on the spurious advice of the CCT which is working in tandem with the APC-led government to enthrone dictatorship in the country. The action of the Federal government is a coup against the judiciary. We, therefore, demand his immediate reinstatement of the CNJ.
“We the Friends of Atiku in collaboration with other stakeholders have concluded arrangements to mobilise over one-million members and other Cross Riverians in protest against the I’ll treatment meted out on one of our great sons. This is the auspicious time for Democrats and statesmen to rise up against the emerging dictatorship in our body polity. Our constitutional democracy is endangered; the nation is on the brink of precipice if we allow the APC government to continue in this act of brigandage.”
Ibok noted that the speedy trial and the hog-wash arrangement leading to the illegal suspension of the CJN were all indications that the coup was already hatched waiting for execution by the presidency, who told the nation in a live Town Hall Debate on NTA that they were not aware of that.
All these actions, he said, were indications that the country is sliding into another era reminiscent of late Abacha dictatorship where the rule of law and respect for human rights were thrown to the winds.
Ibok, who doubles as the Special Adviser to Governor Ben Ayade on Inter-Party Affairs, bemoaned the series of intimidation, harassment and outright brutality meted out on various institutions of the state and perceived political opponents of Buhari, wondering whether this is the type of change APC promised Nigerians
He decried the ignominious ways senior citizens were being rubbished by the APC administration for daring to speak out in the midst of injustice and oppression, adding that the CJN’s case was an eye opener of the plots APC has for Nigerians as Nigerians head for Polls from next month. He advised voters to not only be vigilant but must protect their votes if change must be affected.
Also speaking on behalf of Cross River for CRFGG, and Arise for Onoghen, Comrade Cletus Idangu, said: “We cannot fold our hands and watch APC government drag the notion into chaos just because they want to win the 2019 elections by hook or crook.
“The time is ripe to call this government to order as well as fight for the survival of our dear country. We have never witnessed this kind of impunity in the name of fighting corruption. We shall be prepared to match on the streets on Calabar soon to register our anger against Onoghen.
“We have also observed that the corruption war is lopsided and applied indiscriminately depending on where you come from. The CJN suspension is the climax of injustice against the South-South and South-East zones just because they did not vote massively for Buhari. We shall continue to fight until Onoghen is restored. “