Say we must join forces to defend, save our democracy
By Clifford Ndujihe
MORE than two-thirds of political parties in Nigeria, which has threatened to boycott the 2019 general polls over the suspension of Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, have restated their demand for reversal of the decision

The 67 parties, which congregated on the banner of Political Parties in Defence of Nigeria’s Constitution and Democracy, in a joint statement by their leaders, the manner President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Justice Onnoghen and appointed Justice Tanko Muhammad as acting CJN, was meant precipitate crisis in the country.


They said: “We are very disturbed by the illegal suspension of the Honorable Chief Justice of Nigeria and the illegal swearing in of an Acting Chief Justice. Both actions are illegal and foreign to our Constitution. We emphatically state here that the purported suspension of the CJN is unequivocally illegal, indefensible and thus unconstitutional.

“The improper process adopted by President Mohammadu Buhari, in suspending the CJN and in appointing Justice Tanko Muhammad as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, is seen by a majority of Nigerians as based on an improperly obtained Order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, thus making it illegal. Furthermore, it is unconstitutional because it violates and goes against the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Painfully, the actions of President Buhari is intended and contrived to precipitate a constitutional crisis in our dear country and further polarize Nigeria unnecessarily.

It should be noted that the office of the CJN is not a ministerial position, rather it is a creation of Sections 230(1)(a) and 231(1) & (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That office, the CJN, is the head of an independent arm of our tripartite government

It should also be noted that the removal of the CJN is addressed in our Constitution in Section 292, wherein a strict process is outlined and must be followed. Generally, the three independent arms of the government must be involved in both instances of appointment and removal of the CJN. Thus, the president, in acting alone and unilaterally, lacks the power and authority to suspend the Chief Justice of the Federation.

“President Buhari’s purported suspension of the CJN in reliance on the improperly obtained and improperly issued Order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which is actually under the Executive Branch, is to put it mildly, wrong, misplaced, ill-conceived and deserving of immediate reversal.

The CJN, as a judicial officer, can only be removed from office by the President acting on an address supported by two thirds majority of the Senate for his inability to discharge the functions of his office or appointment or for misconduct or contravention of the Code of Conduct. Anything contrary to this procedure is unconstitutional and serves only to harm our democracy.

Furthermore, the National Judicial Council, (NJC), has not recommended the suspension or removal of the CJN, neither has it exercised any disciplinary action against the CJN. Thus the purported suspension of the CJN by President Buhari must fail.”

The parties continued: “ It is very distressing that the timing of this illegal act by President Buhari, being so close to the upcoming general elections, has brought suspicion to the intent of the President regarding the fairness of the forthcoming general elections and possibly tainted the elections dispute resolution process, such as the creation of election dispute tribunals.

“As political parties, we therefore reject this illegal act of the President and the unwarranted attack on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We therefore call on President Buhari to immediately rescind his illegal suspension of the CJN so as to avoid further harm to our nascent democratic institutions.

“We humbly and with a civic duty to the unity of the nation call on all Nigerians to come together and defend our Democracy, our Constitution and our dear country Nigeria. In so doing we must not show fear. How we react today will determine the future of Nigeria. It can be the end or beginning of democracy in Nigeria. For us it is the beginning of the strengthening of the democratic institutions in Nigeria. For out of adversity comes strength, development and growth.
“We must ensure that the three arms of our budding democracy continue to enjoy independence from one another and act as checks and balances to each other without any further acts of harassment and intimidation from President Buhari…We Stand with the Constitution and Rule of Law in all cases no matter the persons involved or the offence allegedly committed. This is the only way to strengthen our democratic institutions. Self-help such as resorted to by President Buhari harms all of us and goes against the foundation of our Constitution.”

The 67 parties that kicked against Onnoghen’s suspension include: Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; Social Democratic Party, SDP; Action Alliance, AA; Advanced Congress of Democrats, ACD; African Democratic Congress, ADC; Labour Party, LP; All Blending Party, ABP; Liberation Movement, LM; Action Peoples Party, APP; Action Democratic Congress, ADC; All Grassroots Alliance, AGA; All Grand Alliance Party, AGAP; Alliance for Democracy, AD; Better Nigeria Progressive Party, BNPP; Alliance for Social Democrats, ASD; Coalition for Change, CC; Change Nigeria Party, CNP; and Democratic Alternative.

In the list also are Democratic People’s Congress, DPC; Green Party of Nigeria; GPN; Kowa Party; Mass Action Joint Alliance, MAJA; Masses Movement of Nigeria, MMN; National Conscience Party, NCP; Mega Party of Nigeria, MPN; National Democratic Congress Party, NDCP; National Interest Party, NIP; Change Advocacy Party, CAP; Peoples Coalition Party, PCP; People for Democratic Change, PDC; Progressive Peoples’ Alliance, PPA; Social Party of Nigeria, SPN; Hope Democratic Party, HDP; Congress of Patriots, CP; and Action Democratic Party, ADP.
The rest include Movement Party, MP; Nigeria for Democracy, ND; Providence People Congress, PPC; Peoples Trust, PT; Young Progressive Party, YPP; Nigeria Peoples’ Congress, NPC; Democratic Peoples’ Party, DPP; Grassroots Democratic Party of Nigeria, GDPN; Peoples Party of Nigeria, PPN; Peoples Progressive Party, PPP; Reform and Advanced Party, RAP; Rebuild Nigeria Party, RNP; Restoration Party of Nigeria, RPN; Save Nigeria Congress, SNC; United Democratic Party, UDP; United Patriots, UP; We the People of Nigeria, WPN; Young Democratic Party, YDP; Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party, ANDP; Alliance National Party, ANP; Abundant Nigeria Democratic Party, ANDP; and Alliance for a United Nigeria, AUN.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.