- More Civil society groups continue to condemn the recent suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari
- The Chief Justice of Nigeria was shown the way out by the president on Friday, January 25 in a move that has been widely described as unconstitutional
- The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of 400 Civil Society Organizations, says the action is ill advised and poorly timed
The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of 400 Civil Society Organizations, has condemned the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.
The TMG in a statement sent to Legit.ng on Sunday, January 27 and signed by its chairperson, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, says the onslaught by the presidency against the judiciary, a pillar in the democratic process, is ill advised and poorly timed.
The group said it finds it worrisome that the president is interfering in another arm of government, stressing that it portends dangers for the nation’s democracy, and specifically, the 2019 electoral process.
TMG said: “The act is capable of casting aspersion on the processes and outcomes of the 2019 polls, which are just a few weeks away.
“Of utmost importance in the electoral process, is the impartiality of the election petition tribunals. The recent happenstances have placed serious credibility question on the tribunals, who will be faced with the uphill task of proving that their adjudication of election cases would not be tilted to favour the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“Apart from the credibility problems, the action against the CJN has created the perception in the public that the president is not committed to standing by his promise to ensure the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.”
According to the group, what the president has done is an abuse of power and taking advantage of his control of state apparatus to override the will of the court system.
“TMG is concerned with the effect of the president’s conduct on the elections since actions of these nature are capable of causing voter apathy and anarchy as citizens can be emboldened in the resort to self help. These realities can in turn have an impact on the extent of participation in the electoral process by the people.
“If the effects of the president’s draconian action are placed side by side all the other problems that have affected the preparation for the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the outcomes will impact negatively on the democratic process at the levels of perception and reality.
“TMG is of the view that the president’s unconstitutional overreach, undermines the hallowed principle of separation of power and checks and balances which are sign posts of a healthy democracy. This is therefore the time for the president to take remedial action to repair the serious damage, which has already been done,” the statement said.
The group advised all stakeholders to maintain calm, while calling on aggrieved persons to explore all constitutional and legal processes to ensure the right thing is done in the interest of Nigeria’s evolving democracy.
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Similarly, YIAGA Africa Initiative, has called on President Buhari to reverse the suspension of the Onnoghen within seven days.
Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo made the call on the sidelines of a media roundtable on the 2019 elections and Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) on Saturday, January 26.
Itodo said attempts to rationalize the action taken by the president, “is completely irresponsible and should not be tolerated in anyway.”
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