Adelani Adepegba, Abuja
A coalition of civil society organisations on Saturday protested against the removal and replacement of the Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen at the Embassy of the United States in Abuja.
They asked the US and the United Kingdom to immediately place visa restrictions on President Muhammadu Buhari and his family, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, the acting CJN, Justice Tanko Yusuf, and the Code of Conduct Tribunal Chairman, Danladi Umar.
The protesters described the development as a threat to democracy and interference in next month’s elections.
The Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, Ariyo-Dare Atoye alleged that Onnoghen was removed by the President so he could plant pliable judges in the election tribunals.
He said, “It has become obvious to Nigerians that Buhari’s only plan is to rig the elections and shop for pliable, compromised and corrupt judges who will give him and his political parties soft landing.”
“This action is worse than rigging on election day, it is an obvious case of interference and setting the stage for a total compromise, and we are calling on the US and UK governments to activate their visa ban on Buhari.”
Spokesperson for National Interest Group, Ikenga Ugochinyere, said Buhari had by his action, overthrown constitutional governance, insisting that Onnoghen’s removal would not stand.
“As far as the law of the land is concerned, Onnoghen remains the CJN. We will not recognise any other person who may be occupying that office illegally. Justice Tanko Muhammed is an usurper, the NJC must sack him. Lawyers must ignore him as long as he remains on that seat,” he stated.
Adebayo Raphael, Co-Convener, Free Nigeria Movement said, “The illegal suspension of Walter Onnoghen and swearing-in of Justice Tanko is a despotic assault on Nigeria’s judiciary and the collective sensibilities of we the people of Nigeria.”