Gbenga Omokhunu, Abuja by Gbenga Omokhunu, Abuja January 28, 2019
Presidential candidates back suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen
The forum of Presidential Candidates and Political Parties for Good Governance (PCPPGG) on Monday backed the suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
The candidates said it will not have any negative effect on the forthcoming general elections.
The presidential candidates addressed a press conference in Abuja and said that the alleged offence for which Onnoghen was suspended does not warrant the intervention of the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The chairman of the presidential candidates, Alhaji Shittu Muhammed Kabir, said: “The Forum of Presidential Candidates and Political Parties for Good Governance believes strongly that President Muhammadu Buhari’s suspension of Hon.Justice Onnoghen as CJN is proper and timely.
“Majority of Nigerians have now realised that but for the pre-emptive move by the President, Onnoghen would have proceeded to constitute the Election Petition Panels.
“No wonder some interested elements are shocked that their game plan has been punctured. Desperate disease needs a desperate treatment. President Buhari acted in the overall interest of the masses of Nigeria.
“So much is required from the judiciary since they hold the power of life and death. Judges are therefore expected to live above board and be incorruptible. It would have been unfair to Nigerians to have someone who is carrying a clear baggage of corruption on his head to continue to preside over a sensitive arm of government like the judiciary, just because some elements would wish to use legal technicalities to cover up or moderate an obvious misdeed.”
He however said as responsible actors in Nigeria’s political system, they have concluded, “That the offence allegedly committed by Hon. Justice Onnoghen is not judicial that could have warranted the intervention of NJC.
“That the constitution recognises the holder of the office of CJN as the 1st public officer in Nigeria.
“That the suspension of the CJN cannot be equated with removal as envisaged in the constitution. The suspension by the President does not, therefore, require the input of the NJC and the National Assembly.
“That we do not believe the action taken by the President will have any negative effect on the forthcoming general elections.
“That we urge the National Assembly, as it reconvenes, to view the President’s action as non-partisan or motivated by any mundane consideration, but taken purely in the best interest of Nigeria.
“That politicians and interest groups should desist from misinforming the people on the patriotic move by the President.”
He noted that the Nigerians and the international community should appreciate the need for the bold action by government and give the needed support to ensure that the country evolves an unblemished and egalitarian society where all citizens are treated equally and fairly, irrespective of their status.