By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA —Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Most Rev John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has declared the controversies caused b the suspension of Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Water Onnoghen, as a distraction the nation cannot afford, ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Onaiyekan, who spoke to journalists last night in Abuja on the sidelines of his 75th birthday celebration, noted that the political atmosphere in the country had been unduly charged, owing to the judicial impasse the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend Justice Onnoghen and replace him with Justice Tanko Mohammaed as Acting CJN.
He said: “I am surprised at the amount of controversy that has been generated on a matter that ought to be straight forward. No matter the position one takes on the matter, one thing is certain: the action of the President has created a lot of bad blood and dust in the political atmosphere. Something has happened that should not happen. Let nobody tell you that the rules for removing the CJN are not clear.
“No matter how you look at the suspension of the CJN, the fact remains that it is a major distraction that we cannot afford going into the 2019 elections.”
He, however, cautioned the executive arm of government against seeking to intimidate and subjugate the judiciary and the legislature, saying “since the executive has the ‘ownership of military power,’ it has an edge over the other two arms of government but the whole system cannot stand unless the three are standing tall like a tripod.”
Onaiyekan further expressed delight over the Senate’s decision to seek adjudication on the matter at the Supreme Court rather than through self-help, insisting that civil activities such as street protests were needless except when all legal options had been exhausted without any success.
“If the constitution and the Supreme Court says Mr. President is wrong, he is not infallible, he should be able to say ‘Okay, I was mis-advised’. If the Supreme Court says he is right, we should all accept it and move on so that we can do our election peacefully, justly, and fairly,” the cleric advised.