The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has expressed outrage over the sudden attempt to arraign the Chief Justice of the Federation (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCB).
The former Vice President said he did not see the need why the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) is putting pressure on him.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Saturday, he said: “I have received the news of the sudden charges about to be filed against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, with apprehension and suspicion especially as such a move against the head of an arm of our government is coming so close to an election in preparation of which the Buhari administration has shown growing desperation.
“My suspicions are further exacerbated by the fact that the Buhari government is pressuring an independent and self-governing arm of government with the aim of getting CJN Walter Onnoghen to resign or be pushed aside.
“I stand on the side of the rule of law and believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
“If Justice Walter Onnoghen is guilty of the charges about to be preferred against him, let his guilt be determined by a competent court of law and not by the Buhari administration.
“The executive cannot usurp the role of the judiciary. Nigeria is still a democracy and not a fascist dictatorship as President Buhari may wish.
“Any attempt to force Justice Walter Onnoghen to vacate his office, 4 weeks to an election for which the unpopular Buhari administration has shown every intention to manipulate, is a move pregnant with negative meaning.
“I see no reason whatsoever for the ongoing pressure by the Buhari government to force Justice Walter Onnoghen to vacate office when he has not been convicted for any offence.
“I, therefore, call on the President to respect the principle of separation of powers and abide by the rule of law on this matter and stop any interference or pressure on Justice Walter Onnoghen or the judiciary and allow the law and the constitution take its full course.”
Also, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has condemned, in very strong terms “the undemocratic, unconstitutional and illegal plots by the outgoing Buhari Presidency in order to fix the last missing piece of their rigging machinery.”
A statement issued by Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, its National spokesman, in Abuja on Saturday, it recalled that the Presidency had, during the appointment of Justice Onnoghen, shown that it was not comfortable with his appointment “hence it was delayed until President Buhari was hurried out of the country due to perennial illness.”
The coalition observed that Justice Onnoghen has since “shown that he is fair, firm, and able to do justice and will not succumb to the pressures of a Presidency that is planning to rig an election as the only hope of winning reelection following their rejection by the Nigerian people.”
The CUPP added: “This dastardly move by the Presidency is the last desperate acts of an outgoing government to blackmail the CJN out of office and bring in a rouge judge to allow APC rigging.
“The President had refused to sign the Electoral Act Amendment into law thereby neutralizing the legislature on issues concerning this election; he had serially disobeyed court orders thereby abused and destroyed our courts by that, severally abused the fundamental rights of citizens, has compromised the security agencies by manipulating the leadership of all of them including illegally extending the tenure of the Inspector General of Police, the INEC and indeed all other agencies of State have been intimidated and harassed to do the bidding of an unpopular tyrant and would be deployed to deny Nigerians their will at the polls. Knowing that the Supreme Court would not pander to their whims and approve their rigging of the elections, they have resorted to this arm twisting tactics.
“Nigerians will recall that the Presidency had earlier directed the ruling Party to donate a Senatorial ticket of the Party to the husband of the President of the Court of Appeal as part of moves to compromise the Court of Appeal President.”
The coalition enjoined the CJN never to resign for the sake of the nation’s democracy “as this can only be termed as the failed action of a tyrant to subdue an incorruptible judge. The trumped up charges will fall like a pack of cards like those filed against the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and all the judges whose homes were invaded on 7th October 2016.”
It further stated: “These acts of desperation are an unequivocal declaration of war on the Nigerian democracy by the Buhari Presidency and the ruling APC.
“PresidentBuhari is now living in morbid fear of losing the election after he wasted the opportunity freely and willingly given to him by Nigerians to improve their lot.
“We know we are dealing with a President who is a maniac now. He is willing to bring Nigeria to a grinding halt. Nothing is sacred to President Buhari anymore. Not the lives of Nigerians, not our institutions of the state, not security, not the economy, just absolutely nothing.
“What President Buhari is doing is the height of impunity and rascality.
The CJN cannot be forced out of office even with a trillion fictitious charges.
“Nigerian opposition will immediately commence mobilization for a One Million Man March to save the Nigerian judiciary from President Buhari’s reign of destruction.
“We call on all Nigerians to know that from our Intelligence reports that Malami, Amaechi, Akpabio, Oshiomhole, Tinubu, Hope Uzodimma are the brains behind the CJN Must Go Project.
“And our intelligence reports are that the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal has been conscripted into the matter and has already been prepped to grant a strange order without adequate judicial authority directing the Chief Justice to vacate his seat while the tribunal sits.
“God forbid they succeed! God forbid they truncate our democracy! God forbid they return Nigeria to the dark ages.”