A popular environmental activist, from Niger Delta, Ms Annkio Briggs and Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), human rights activist, have described the suspension of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, as a predetermined Northern agenda to take control of the Judiciary.
Ventilating her view on the matter, Briggs called it another manifestation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s open bias against the people of the region. “While one is not trying to defend Onnoghen, the question people are asking is whether due process has been followed in his case?,” she queried. “The answer is no. If the President claims to be a respecter of the rule of law, why is he violating the same by not following due process in Onnoghen’s case? NJC is the body that is supposed to investigate the CJN and make proper recommendations based on its findings, but why has he now usurped its constitutional duties? Why is he in a hurry to obey the Code of Conduct Tribunal order when for over three years he has refused to obey court orders on the release of Dasuki, and El Zaky-Zaky?’’
Also reacting to a statement credited to El-Rufai, Chief Ozekhome who spoke with our correspondent said: “it is very clear to any Nigerian that Governor El- Rufai is the mouthpiece of the North in their rabid action to enthrone total Northernization of the Judiciary in the country. The Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Justice Ishaq Bello is a Northerner, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdul Kafarati is a Northerner. The only Southerner and Christian amongst them is the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, who is now illegally and unconstitutionally suspended from office by President Muhammadu Buhari via a black market order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal. There is no name of any counsel on the said order of the CCT. The question is: did the Tribunal move the motion for the suspension of Justice Onnoghen on its own? Secondly, the order merely directed the CJN to step aside and not suspension.
The question again is: did Justice Onnoghen step aside to warrant the appointment and swearing-in of an Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria? The suspension of Justice Onnoghen is a breached of sections 258, 231 and 292 of the 1999 Constitution and section 3(d), 15 and 24 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Code of Conduct Tribunal Act. It is a desperate attempt by the unpopular APC government to rig the 2019 election having been rejected by Nigerians on account of its failed promises. Justice Onnoghen’s removal is also an attempt by the executive arm of government to have a firm control of the nation’s judiciary. So, Mallam El-Rufai is just the mouthpiece of the North in their evil agenda to Northernize the Judiciary.”