PANDEF Rejects CJN’s Suspension

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The Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, an elders’ group in the South South, has rejected the suspension of Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, the chief justice of Nigeria, CJN, by President Muhammadu Buhari, The Guardian reports.
The group said the action was akin to suspending the constitution and enthroning dictatorship, anarchy and self-help.
In a statement signed by Dr. Alfred Mulade, PANDEF’s national secretary, the group called on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to boycott the courts pending the reversal of the alleged illegality. “Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad should be sanctioned by the National Judicial Council (NJC) for his willful participation in this ‘coup’ against the office of the CJN and the Nigerian constitution. The courts should not sit until Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad is barred from parading himself as the CJN and Honourable Mr. Justice Walter Onnoghen promptly reinstated,” PANDEF said.
The statement reads in part: “It is important to recall that PANDEF had raised concern that the hasty arraignment of Honourable Mr. Justice Walter Onnoghen at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, coming barely one month to the general elections, was politically motivated, and was a ploy to force the CJN out of office without recourse to due process of law as well as to make way for enthronement of their own person, in this case, the Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, to do their bidding.
“Clearly, the judicial arm, which is the pillar of integrity upon which our democracy rests, is under siege. Separation of powers and rule of law are threatened.
“Indeed the independence of the judiciary shall be subjugated and consumed if this brazen action is allowed to stand. The principles and tenets for rule of law and judiciary, being the hope of the common man, are being jeopardised.”
“Let all Nigerians of goodwill stand united on this matter and challenge this despotic action of the president, which remains illegal and unconstitutional, and therefore null and void.
“Let us restate that PANDEF, and indeed the people of the Niger Delta region and the South South, shall not tolerate the lawlessness and continued persecution of our people by this Buhari-led Federal Government.
“We shall employ all legitimate means to demonstrate our insistence and demand on the reversal of the illegal removal of CJN Walter Onnoghen. This country belongs to all of us, and we are critical stakeholders in the Nigerian state.”
Meanwhile, the Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has cautioned the American and British governments over their remarks on Onnoghen’s suspension.
Professor Ishaq Akintola, its director, said in a statement: “America and Britain should not look at the suspension in isolation but consider the gravity of the offence committed by the CJN.”
He noted that the decision was in line with global best practices for public office holders facing alleged graft charges and called on the two countries not to interfere in the internal affairs of Nigeria.

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