The South South Governor’s Forum has scheduled an emergency meeting of the Forum for Sunday over the alleged plot to remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen by the Presidency.
According to a statement signed by the Special Adviser, Media Relation’s to the Governor òf Bayelsa State, Fidelis Soriwei, on Saturday, the group noted that, “the security òf the Niger Delta, during and after the election, the issue of derivation, and recent development involving the Chief Justice of the Federation would feature for deliberation at the meeting.
The statement reads: “Expressing his opinion at the development in the Supreme Court, Governor Dickson said that while he was yet to know the full details surrounding the developments at the Supreme Court concerning the CJN, it is a grave and dangerous escalation, coming a few weeks to the general elections.
“He said that the South South Governor’s would address a press conference after the meeting to convey the position of the zone to the Nigerian public.
“Governor Dickson said that all efforts must be on deck to prevent the subversion and desecration òf the ethos of democracy in Nigeria as nation moves nearer to the election.
Meanwhile, the Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), former vice president, Atiku Abubakar has cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari and his party All Progressives Congress (APC) not to throw Nigeria into an avoidable crisis over their desperation to sack the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen.
Wazirin Adamawa in a statement issued in Abuja on Saturday, signed by his Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, noted that, “the principle of separation of powers remains sacrosanct in a democracy irrespective of what President Buhari is being told by his starry-eyed advisers or the buttons they are pressing to forcefully remove the CJN.
He described the alleged plot to sack Justice Onnoghen as a preemptive move against the bench in the face of imminent defeat and knowing the role that the judiciary plays in the final outcome of elections.
The statement in part, reads: “We have just been made aware of the plot by President Muhammadu Buhari the All Progressives Congress (APC) to sack Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen using flimsy assets declaration issues as a pretext. We are aware that there are plans to arraign Justice Onnoghen before the Justice Danladi Yakubu Umar led- Code of Conduct Tribunal on Monday, January, 14, 2019. The charge against Onnoghen, we understand has already been filed and served on him last Friday at his official residence in Abuja preparatory to his appearance at the Tribunal.
”But we warn that despite the clandestine meetings in the highest echelon of the APC and also involving some top officials of the federal government which include the Code of Conduct Tribunal, neither Buhari nor the APC can re-write the Nigerian Constitution just because of its impending defeat at the February 16, presidential election. Heavens did not fall when PDP lost to the APC in 2015. And heavens will not fall now that the APC is sure to lose to the PDP, seeing that the APC’s plan to rig in the forthcoming elections will not pull through,” the statement said.
Atiku said Nigerians were aware that the linchpin of the plot, Mr. Dennis Aghanya, the Executive Secretary of the Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI), the author of the purported petition seeking Onnoghen’s removal was the National Publicity Secretary of President Buhari’s defunct political party, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
He also cautioned that “if Buhari and the APC succeed in the current plot, it then should be ready for an epic battle, the end of which no one can predict, and the consequences of which can only be imagined.”We have the strength of character, the courage and the conviction to mount a sustained campaign in defence of justice, and in defence of separation of powers as enshrined in the constitution, which is the ground norm of our democracy,” Atiku warned.
According to him, “the allegations against Onnoghen are true, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) was wrong to have referred the petition to the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).He said the Code of Conduct Bureau, according to Section 3 (e) of the third schedule (part 1) of the 1999 constitution, “shall receive complaints about the non-compliance with or breach of the provisions of the Code of Conduct or any law in relation thereto, investigate the complaint and, where appropriate, refer such matter to the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).”
Atiku also argued that: “since judicial officers are disciplined by the National Judicial Commission (NJC), the CCB was wrong to have referred the matter to the CCT even if the allegations have been found to have any substance.“The proper procedure would have been for the petition to be referred to the JSC of which Onnoghen is the Chairman, but he would have to excuse himself from the process. If found guilty, he could be asked to vacate his office as CJN, in addition to other punishments.”