The president of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has said that there is no part of the constitution that empowered the President to suspend the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
President Muhammad Buhari had suspended the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onneghen, following advice by the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
But Saraki said the constitution has clearly spelt out the functions of the three arms of government, and an arm trying to usurp another’s role will lead to constitutional crisis.
The suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Onnoghen by President Buhari is an action capable of undermining the nation’s judiciary, subverting the Constitution, intimidating judges, and creating uncertainty in the electoral process.
By unilaterally suspending the CJN without following the provisions of the Constitution, President Buhari has sent a dangerous signal to the entire world that Nigeria is no longer a democratic nation and that we have returned to the old, jaded era of military dictatorship.
Our Constitution makes no provision for the suspension of the nation’s highest judicial officer.
The Constitution provides a clear process for the removal of the CJN and specifies the roles of the three arms of government, beginning from the National Judicial Council (NJC), the National Assembly and lastly, the Presidency — all have different roles to play in that process.
There is no condition under which the President can usurp the powers of the other arms of government.
I do not know where the President and his advisers got this idea of suspending the CJN on the so-called order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal but this is novel, disingenuous and alien to our laws.
It is strange that President Buhari is claiming to be taking orders from a Tribunal which has been ordered by a superior court to halt all actions on the trial.
With this action, President Buhari has initiated a process the consequence of which no one can predict. He has precipitated a Constitutional crisis.
At this point, all democratic institutions in the country, the international community and democrats across the world should rise against this blatant act of impunity.
We must jointly condemn this retrogressive, uncivilized and despotic measure.
I call on President Buhari to immediately reverse this decision and allow the due process of the law to take its natural course.
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