Members of the House of Representatives elected on the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, platform, have vowed to stand together to fight anti-democratic forces desperate to subvert Nigeria’s constitution.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Deputy Minority Leader, Chukwuma Onyema, and issued to reporters on Saturday.
The PDP Caucus condemned the forceful suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria ,CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari
The statement read, ”It is no surprise that within a short while, President Muhammadu Buhari’s unprecedented unilateral replacement of Justice Walter Onnoghen with Justice Tanko Mohammed has reverberated so loudly across the world; so has news of how Onnoghen’s residence was unjustifiably blanketed by forces of coercion during the weekend.
“We note too, that the United Kingdom, the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) and the United States have joined their voices with that of credible and progressive Nigerian democrats, legal professionals and civil society in expressing very deep concerns over the constitutionality or lack thereof, of the Presidency’s suspension of the chief officer of the judicial arm.
“With less than 20 days to the presidential and National Assembly election and with few hours to the constitution of election tribunal judges done on Saturday, the APC/Buhari administration has unequivocally shown its determination to use sleight of hand methods in forcing an election win by all undemocratic means possible.
“As many have rightly noted, the hurried timing of the action, so close to the next election suggests a hidden and perverse agenda by a government that lives in an echo chamber of self-adulation, promising change and transparency while perilously endangering democracy and short-circuiting due process.
Without citing any explicit constitutional authority and hiding behind ‘an order from the Code of Conduct Tribunal,’ President Buhari flagrantly violated the provisions of Section 292 (2) of the 1999 Constitution that clearly lays out how the Chief Justice of Nigeria can be removed from office Unequivocally, Sections 153, 158, and Parts 1 and 2 of the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution provide that a Judicial Officer cannot be so arbitrarily removed from Office until he has first been tried by the National Judicial Council (NJC) while Section 292 (2) makes it clear that the President can only remove the CJN from Office while acting on such decision reached by two-thirds majority of the Senate.
“Without doubt, theirs has been a government of lies, lies, propaganda and then more lies and every conscious Nigerian knows that the entirely contrived and hurried circumstances was orchestrated based on the so-called petition dated January 7 by President Buhari’s erstwhile aide, an APC man while another APC sympathizer is neck deep in the persecution case.
“Everyone in Nigeria knows how Justice Onnoghen’s substantive elevation to the CJN position was unduly delayed by the Buhari government in 2016 until reason prevailed and Osinbajo, as Acting President did the needful in 2017.
“When Buhari’s former aide’s January 7 petition came to light, they initially lied that the Presidency knew nothing about it but the exceedingly lightning speed put behind it all by the Buhari presidency speaks volumes.
“Even a Thursday Court of Appeal ruling, ordering the CCT to stay action, pending the determination of Onnoghen’s application that the CCT had no power to try him, was waved aside for President Buhari’s unprecedented decision of Friday, January 25!
“The military invasion of Daily Trust newspaper, disregard of court orders and non-release of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibrahim el-Zakzaky and his wife, Zinat since December 2015, flagrant disobedience of court orders for the release of former NSA, Sambo Dasuki on bail and this crude, anti-democratic arbitrariness on CJN Onnoghen only attest to fears that we are back in the era of President Buhari’s dark-goggled late ally, with loathsome memories of Buhari’s Decree 4 dictatorship era.
“The PDP Caucus of the House of Representatives hereby assures millions of law-abiding, democracy-loving Nigerians who have respect for process that we shall stand together against anti-democratic forces who are desperate to subvert Nigeria’s constitution, short-circuit the legal process and truncate our democracy out of sheer desperation to cling to power at all costs.”