Following the reactions of certain foreign nation and bodies over the suspension of erstwhile Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen, the Centre for Democracy and Good Governance (CDGG) has opined that their judgements were biased and one-sided.
President Muhammadu Buhari had suspended Mr Onnoghen who is facing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for non-declaration of assets.
Despite apparently falling short of the constitution, the United States and European Union appeared to take the side of the embattled judicial chief without proper analysis of the situation.
In a statement released by CDGG’s Executive Director, Dr Bridget Ankpan, on Sunday in Abuja, the group revealed that the pair has no business interfering with an affair that bothers around the country’s rule of law.
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The Centre, however, warned the US and EU to desist from echoing the propaganda of the opposition, especially with the general elections on the horizon.
“The Centre for Democracy and Good Governance (CDGG) has noted with concerns the statements emanating from several countries and regional bodies as regards the suspension of ex-Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen and the subsequent swearing in of Justice Tanko Mohammed as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, “ the statement began.
“The statements issued by these countries and foreign organizations made no effort to disguise that they are siding with the opposition in Nigeria, which lends credence to those that earlier accused them of trying to force a regime change in Nigeria irrespective of how Nigerians vote. They also decided to base their positions on street folklore that completely ignore that President Muhammadu Buhari acted on the order of the Code of Conduct Tribuna, which is a creation of the Constitution of Nigeria (as amended). The stand they have taken therefore suggest that they view their own wishes as superior to the sovereignty of the country.
“The EU and US presented these views and totally ignored the larger population of Nigerians that sided with President Buhari on the suspension of Justice Onnoghen. Had these countries bothered to look beyond the faulty intelligence they based their intervention on, they would have seen that the suspended Chief Justice insulted Nigerians by refusing to declare his assets, which included domiciliary bank accounts that hold money deposits beyond his means as a judicial officer. It will greatly enrich the debate if the EU or the US can cite instances or examples of judges that remained in office after breaching extant legislation in their jurisdictions as Justice Onnoghen did.
“We find it racist for the EU and US to adopt the simplistic explanation that the suspension was linked to the General Elections. It is most unfortunate that they concluded that all other facets of life in Nigeria must be halted for the elections when this is not the case in their own countries. Once the elections are concluded, these same nations would label Nigeria a business risk on account of failing to place a corrupt Chief Justice on trial had President Buhari not acted to clean up the Aegean stable of corruption that the judiciary has become in Nigeria prior to the decisive suspension of the ex-Chief Judge.
“Our belief is that the US would have had the benefit of input from brighter minds had its government not been shut down and those who could have been voices of reason placed on furlough. The EU must have also lost its objectivity because it is under strain from its unravelling union with far-right extremists continuing to spread chaos across its member nations. As the EU EOM noted in its statement that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) invited it to observe the elections, it will do well to stick to this brief and not interfere with Nigeria’s resolve to tackle corruption headlong.
“It is in the interest of peace, stability and successful elections in Nigerian that the EU and the US desist from echoing the propaganda of the opposition. Where they decide to become official reporters of public opinion in Nigeria, it is only fair that they report across the divide – when they cite those criticizing the suspension of the Chief Justice they should also cite the majority that are demanding that he stands trial for breaking the law. Any nation, regional body or supranational body that wants to intervene in Nigeria must respect the fact that Nigeria has its own Constitution and cannot be dictated to as it works towards freeing itself from the shackles of corruption.”